Hammond city council plans to hire Baton Rouge firm to investigate 2017 beating incident
HAMMOND - The Hammond City Council is planning to secure a Baton Rouge law firm regarding the 2017 police booking room video that has made national news.
In 2017, Kentdrick Ratliff was beaten, tased and kicked inside the booking room after he reached for a bottle of pills. One officer was disciplined for the kick to his groin, but that was overturned by the Civil Service Board. Another officer seen beating him is Edwin Bergeron, was promoted to police chief following the booking room beating.
An independent use of force consultant called Bergeron's actions "borderline criminal and excessive force."
Council members said at the time of Bergeron's appointment they were not told about the facts of the incident. Councilman Devon Wells says that contrary to what council members claim the mayor told the public about an investigation being done on the chief, there was no investigation.
"The mayor actually lied to us, flat-out lied," Wells said.
At a heated council meeting last month, the council voted to ask for an independent investigation into the beating and the cover-up.
Mayor Pete Panepinto has said the following in the past.
"We do investigations," Panepinto said. "We are transparent. We want to be transparent."
But, transparency was lacking involving the 2017 incident. Ratliff's attorney, Ravi Shah, said he had requested the video but was never given copies of it. In fact, he was told no such video existed.
In covering the tumultuous events in Hammond after the release of the video by the WBRZ Investigative Unit this summer, our crews have been accosted multiple times by the same resident there, pushed and stalked. Sources said he's close to the current administration.
With fallout ongoing, many are hoping the investigation will finally yield the truth.
The FBI is investigating this matter. Calls to Mayor Pete Panepinto were not returned.