Hammond to hire outside expert to review leaked video of violent police booking incident
HAMMOND - A video from 2017 of the now Hammond Police Chief using what has been described as an excessive amount of force has led to outrage and demand for change.
The Hammond City Council met on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to vote on initiating an investigation into the mayor's appointment of Police Chief Edwin Bergeron and discuss removing him from his current position.
PACKED HOUSE: Hammond City Council will vote if they want to initiate an investigation into the mayor’s appointment of Police Chief Edwin Bergeron, and if they want to ask the mayor to remove the chief from his position, after this story from @WBRZ > https://t.co/9p33ehAOwB pic.twitter.com/f1dhF45I2N— Trey Couvillion (@treycouvtv) September 8, 2020
The council unanimously voted to pass a resolution, demanding an investigation.
#UPDATE: The resolution to initiate an investigation into the mayor’s chief of police appointment has been amended to the following:— Trey Couvillion (@treycouvtv) September 9, 2020
“Refer the booking room video to an independent third party expert for review and written report.”
The resolution passed unanimously. @WBRZ
In a 3 to 2 vote, the council voted to approve the resolution asking the mayor to remove the police chief from his position. The mayor said during the meeting he does not plan on doing so.
#UPDATE: In a 3 to 2 vote, Hammond City Council votes to approve the resolution asking the mayor to remove the police chief from his position. The mayor said during the meeting he does not plan on doing so. @WBRZ— Trey Couvillion (@treycouvtv) September 9, 2020
On Monday night, Aug. 24, members of the community, the Louisiana and Baton Rouge chapters of the NAACP, and multiple council members met to discuss the incident caught on tape, calling for the investigation to be reopened.
There was no immediate action taken on Monday night.
The video from 2017 shows Edwin Bergeron, a sergeant at the time, beating Kentdrick Ratliff, who was handcuffed, with a closed fist.
The incident took place after Ratliff was approached by police for parking over a sidewalk and was arrested for drug possession.
When Ratliff was taken into the booking room, he eventually reached for his pills, which he has since admitted was a mistake. Ratliff was immediately hit at least five times by Bergeron.
After being punched, Ratliff was tazed, kicked and held down by multiple officers before he is seen being dragged away on the surveillance video.
Bergeron was the mayor's pick for police chief in 2019. Councilmember Devon Wells says they never saw the full video of the incident before approving that decision. At least two other council members also said they did not see the video beforehand.
The full video was leaked to the WBRZ Investigative Unit in early August. A third party investigator reviewing the footage said the officers' use of force was "excessive" and "borderline criminal." That independent investigation was launched after one officer received disciplinary action for kicking Ratliff during the incident.
"I've been knowing that chief, never had a problem with him. But when I saw that video of the chief punching that guy, I lost all respect for him. That was wrong," one concerned member of the community said during the meeting.
The City of Hammond is now moving to hire an outside expert to review the video footage of the police booking room incident.
This is a developing story.
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