EXCLUSIVE: Teen talks about encounter with officer, viral video
BATON ROUGE - A weekend outdoor event celebrating Earth Day became a tangled mess of violence that is now the focus of numerous police investigations.
The Internal Affairs department within Baton Rouge Police is investigating how officers handled the arrest of a 16-year-old in a grassy area between city hall and S. River Road. Video given to WBRZ by witnesses show officers repeatedly hitting someone who was in the process of being arrested. The person being arrested was face-down and officers were trying to put handcuffs on him when one officer hits the person three times with either an open or closed fist. A woman who identified herself as the subject's mother said her son is a teenager and was scheduled to have a hearing concerning his arrest later Monday.
"We have seen the video involving the officer and the chief has initiated an internal investigation," a Baton Rouge spokesperson told the WBRZ Investigative Unit Monday.
In an exclusive interview Monday, the teen's family told News 2 they're ready for the ordeal to be over.
"He told me to move from that area, so when he told me to move from that area, and I tried to go again, he grabbed my arm and he slammed me," Ja'Colby Davis explains. "And then he just started punching me in the head."
Ja'Colby's mom, Danielle Todd, had to bail him out Monday.
"I don't care if you're black, white, Hispanic or whatever. It doesn't matter. No child should be beat in the head like he was beat in the head," Todd says.
There is no video showing what happened leading up to Davis' arrest. The family's attorney argues, that shouldn't matter.
"What the video does show while he's on the ground, it shows him being abused and punched by several law enforcement officials," Shannon Battiste told News 2.
On Twitter, various users who were discussing the arrest and sharing the video also shared video and posted conversations about mobs of young people getting into fights throughout downtown Sunday. It was not clear if the fights were real or staged. The Twitter user who appeared to be leading the conversations uses a Twitter handle – essentially the title an individual's Twitter page – @FightLouisiana.
Three teens associated with the fights tried to steal a car from the parking garage at the Belle of Baton Rouge and fired a gun when they confronted the driver. No one was hit and the group was arrested, police said.
“Events like LA Earth Day are meant to help our community unite with a shared mission, not to provide opportunities for violence,” said BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie in a statement about the weekend situation. “As a department, it is our role to protect and serve our community, and as we investigate yesterday’s events, we intend to ensure that, moving forward, we respond to violent acts by attendees like what we witnessed yesterday responsibly and to the best of our ability.”
Police said they have seen an increase in violence at the event in the past few years.
Police were aware of the social media threads showing videos of brawls Sunday, too.