City expects civil or criminal action in officer's case
BATON ROUGE – The city expects civil or criminal action tied to the case surrounding a police officer firing his weapon while pursuing a man that was released of any criminal wrongdoing in the altercation.
The revelation was made when the city refused to release internal affairs records requested by the WBRZ Investigative Unit Wednesday.
Yuseff Hamadeh was fired last week after a months-long investigation into the shooting situation.
Hamadeh, police investigators determined, wrongfully discharged his gun while pursuing Raheem Howard on August 7th. At first, Hamadeh said Howard fired at him and Howard was later arrested.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore later said he would not pursue criminal charges against Howard due to a lack of evidence.
Hamadeh's body camera and in-car camera were not recording during the incident and police later released that video and audio, which seemed to suggest that only one shot was fired in the encounter. Police never found the weapon Howard allegedly used to fire at Hamadeh.
Hamadeh, who had been on the force for two years, was assigned to the Street Crimes Unit. He was placed on paid leave while BRPD investigated the shooting and then placed on restricted duty up until his firing.
A criminal investigation into Hamadeh's actions has been turned over to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office.
When Hamadeh was fired, WBRZ filed a public records request seeking the files related to the police investigation. Files may show how the department’s internal investigators determined only one weapon was fired and what Hamadeh said about the situation.
This week, the city denied to make the records public – over concerns the matter will enter civil or criminal court. It is not unusual for a public entity to deny a records request when litigation is expected.
“We have determined that records you have requested pertain to pending criminal litigation or [civil] litigation which can be reasonably anticipated, and such litigation has not been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled at this time,” Deelee Morris of the city’s legal team wrote in an email to WBRZ Wednesday afternoon.
Hamadeh plans to appeal his termination.
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