FBI calls for more to come forward as feds investigates BRPD for possible civil rights violations
BATON ROUGE - In a rare move, the FBI publicly called for more tipsters to come forward Friday as it investigates claims that officers within the Baton Rouge Police Department have been abusing their power.
A statement from the agency says investigators are reviewing allegations that those officers "abused their authority" and that they're determining whether any federal violations occurred. The agency, which typically avoids commenting on open investigations, is urging that anyone with information relevant to the case contact agents at 1-800-225-5324 or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.
"The New Orleans FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana have opened a federal investigation into the Baton Rouge Police Department and allegations that members of the department may have abused their authority. Experienced prosecutors and agents are now reviewing the matter for potential federal violations."
The announcement came Friday amid BRPD's own criminal investigation into its officers' actions. It stems from a lawsuit alleging officers physically abused multiples suspects inside of a makeshift interrogation site known internally as the "Brave Cave."
In the weeks since, more have come forward claiming they were subjected to unlawful strip searches at the Brave Cave.
After an attorney filed a lawsuit exposing the facility, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome ordered that it be permanently shut down, saying she had no prior knowledge of its existence. BRPD Chief Murphy Paul also announced that he was disbanding the Street Crimes unit, a division of the agency assigned to the most violent corners of the city.
Members of the Street Crimes unit were implicated in the lawsuit, including officer Troy Lawrence Jr., who was arrested this week for abusing a suspect in custody. Lawrence, who has a history of use-of-force complaints, resigned last month as the department began his termination process.
Two other officers with ties to the Street Crimes unit were also placed on administrative leave earlier this week, though the department did not explain what prompted the move.
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