FBI getting involved in 'Brave Cave' investigation as lawyer alleges misconduct by officers
UPDATE: The FBI released a statement on Friday confirming its investigation into claims that officers "abused their authority."
BATON ROUGE - Lawyers representing those claiming they were victimized inside a makeshift police interrogation facility known as the "Brave Cave" held a news conference Monday morning detailing more of the abuse that allegedly occurred there.
The conference Monday announced an additional federal lawsuit alleging BRPD's policy was to conduct "sexually humiliating" strip searches on those taken to the facility.
Ternell Brown said she was taken to the warehouse after police found prescription medications and a gun in her car during a traffic stop. Brown's attorney, Ryan Thompson, described what Brown says she endured.
"She was then hand-cuffed and taken to the Brave Cave," Thompson said. "What happened there is unconscionable. She was then strip searched. There was also a visual body cavity search that was performed upon her.'
During an interview with WBRZ on Monday, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul explained that two investigations into the facility are ongoing: an internal, administrative probe and a criminal investigation into the officers actions.
Paul added that federal authorities, specifically the FBI, are getting involved in the investigation.
"We're working and cooperating fully with our federal partners on these complaints as well," Paul said.
The investigation began with the ousting of Baton Rouge police officer Troy Lawrence Jr., who resigned after he was accused of violently beating of a man inside the facility, which more closely resembled a warehouse than a proper police facility.
As more details began to emerge on the Brave Cave and how it functioned as a processing facility, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome announced in late August that the facility would be permanently shut down and that BRPD would be disbanding the Street Crimes Unit associated with it.
Community activist Gary Chambers was at the press conference on Monday and spoke out about the allegations.
"Somebody's lying because we're finding out that people are being stripped and beat up in this facility, and telling me you shut it down is not enough," Chambers said. "If people broke the law in here. They need to do something about it."
The criminal investigation is specifically reviewing the actions of the officers previously with the Street Crimes Unit and their use of the Brave Cave.
Chief Paul says the investigation will take time, and its something he says he's taking seriously.
"I understand everybody want to get it right, but investigations take time," he said. "We've got to get it right, and sometimes I can't give it to you right now. But I assure you there will be a thorough investigation."