BRPD officer fired, charged with kidnapping & malfeasance in 2021 traffic stop
BATON ROUGE - A police officer accused of leading a 19-year-old to an abandoned warehouse where he allegedly groped her and threatened to arrest lost his job Wednesday, more than a year after he was placed on paid leave over the allegations.
The Baton Rouge Police Department's decision to fire Donald Steele Jr. came just hours after a grand jury indicted him on charges of second-degree kidnapping and malfeasance in office. Steele previously faced a count of misdemeanor sexual battery as well, though he was not formally charged with that Wednesday.
Steele was first arrested in August 2021, over two months after the traffic stop. The victim later filed a lawsuit alongside the original criminal complaint, alleging that Steele pulled her over on suspicion of DWI along Burbank Drive, an area he was not supposed to be patrolling.
Ron Haley is representing the victim.
"He used his influence as a police officer," Haley said. "If you don't follow me, X Y Z is going to happen, and the X Y Z is she was going to get arrested. That's how you get the kidnapping charge. The malfeasance you're doing all of this on the clock and you are supposed to be protecting and serving not serving your own personal interests."
According to the victim's attorney, Steele told the woman that he didn't want to arrest her "because she was pretty." After he shooed away two LSU police offers who pulled over to check on the traffic stop—telling them he was "out with his sister"—Steele allegedly had the woman follow him to an isolated lot near the Hollywood Casino.
Once there, Steele allegedly grabbed the woman's breasts, forcibly kissed her and took away her phone before going through her pictures, according to arrest documents.
"He's been on a Brady list since the allegations came about like others that have allegations against them," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "So now obviously he remains on that list and we have an indictment. I think we have very few cases with him at this point."
A Brady list is a list of untrustworthy cops with credibility concerns. Those issues have to be reported to the court and the defense.
Moore commended the victim for coming forward.
"Young lady that endured a lot at the hands of an official and came forward and has taken us some time to get here," Moore said.
Steele's attorney Franz Borghardt released the following statement Wednesday.
“We were notified about the indictment from the media, which is unfortunate, as we sent a letter of representation to the DA’s Office in September of 2021. That said, we will now move forward defending Donald against what we believe to be false allegations of misconduct. He maintains his innocence.”
On Oct. 5, Donald Steele pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
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