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BRPD officers linked to defunct Street Crimes unit placed on leave amid 'Brave Cave' probe

9 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, September 19 2023 Sep 19, 2023 September 19, 2023 4:25 PM September 19, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ
Jesse Barcelona (left) and Todd Thomas (right)

BATON ROUGE - Two officers who were part of a specialized police unit that was dissolved amid a lawsuit and a criminal investigation tied to the department's use of a crude interrogation site known as the "Brave Cave" are now on administrative leave. 

While it's unclear whether the decision was related to the department's internal investigation into the Brave Cave's operations, the move came just a day after attorneys detailed more of the alleged abuse they say went on inside the facility. 

Sources tell the WBRZ Investigative Unit that officers Jesse Barcelona and Todd Thomas were put on leave Tuesday, though they apparently were not given a reason for the decision. Both officers were previously part of the Street Crimes unit, a division of BRPD dedicated to tackling crime in the most violent corners of the city. Of the two, only Barcelona was still part of the unit when it was dismantled. 

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome announced in late August that the Street Crimes unit was being disbanded and its nine remaining officers reassigned. In that same breath, the mayor announced the so-called Brave Cave would no longer be used for police activity.

It all happened after an attorney representing an arrestee sued the city, alleging his client was subjected to a "gang-style" beating at the hands of officers inside the Brave Cave. One of the officers implicated in the lawsuit, Troy Lawrence Jr., resigned last month as the department was set to begin his termination process. 

This is a developing story. 

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