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'It's very heartbreaking:' Neighbor speaks out after BRPD releases body camera footage of May arrest

1 month 1 week 6 hours ago Friday, June 07 2024 Jun 7, 2024 June 07, 2024 5:20 PM June 07, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Police body camera video from a May arrest on West Roosevelt Street, released Friday morning after repeated requests by the WBRZ Investigative Unit, sheds more light on a struggle first seen in cell phone video posted on social media.

Officers were responding on May 21 to reports of gunfire in the area and to a ShotSpotter alert, which uses audio sensors to detect gunshots and triangulates their location. They found Rodrick Veal, 30, asleep in his car, which was running and had its lights on. It was parked on the side of the street facing the wrong direction for traffic.

Officers said they could see a handgun next to Veal in the car. The body camera video shows the officers waking him up with flashlight strobes and tapping on the car windows.

"Don't reach, don't reach," one of the officers said as Veal started to react to their presence. Officers told him to get out of the car, which he did after repeated requests and when an officer opened his car door.

Police tried to do a pat-down search and Veal first protested, saying he knew nothing about shots being fired and was just outside a relative's house. Police said he began to physically resist when one officer identified a plastic bag in Veal's pants pocket.

"What is this right here?" the officer patting him down can be heard saying on the police video.

After a tussle, the officer steps back and then uses his Taser on Veal, who falls to the ground on his back. The officers repeatedly order him to turn around so he can be handcuffed, and he objects between what appear to be additional Taser zaps.

In the struggle, police said, Veal grabbed at the officer's Taser and was able to fire it, with its leads landing in nearby grass.

"If you reach for my f*****g Taser one more time I'm going to f*****g shoot you," that officer can be heard saying at around the 6:25 mark in the video.

After several more minutes of grappling and arguing, additional officers arrived and, as a group, they were able to handcuff Veal.

Veal's mouth was bleeding and he told the officers they'd beaten him up. The officer Veal had struggled with the longest said he was just trying to do the pat-down search.

"All I asked, let me pat you down. That's it. Now you're going to jail, possession of Schedule II," the officer said, putting Veal into a police car..

Police say he was found to have marijuana and methamphetamines. He also is a convicted felon, police said, and couldn't legally have a gun.

Nearly two weeks later, Veal's neighbor Cassie Jones said she is still bothered by the ordeal.

"It's heartbreaking. It's very heart breaking," Jones said. "I feel like it was very unfair. And I feel like he didn't deserve it. He didn't deserve it at all."

Jones said officers shouldn't have even approached Veal's car.

"The guy in the car's asleep. So how would he know what happened if he was in the car asleep?" she said. "Numerous times the cars are parked there, on the wrong side of the street. Nothing ever said. City police always drive by."

Jones said there must be a better way, for police to approach people and for people to respond.

“Give more respect, you know, from both sides," she said.

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