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Woman files lawsuit against BRPD after officer allegedly groped her during traffic stop

1 year 8 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, June 08 2022 Jun 8, 2022 June 08, 2022 11:32 AM June 08, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A 19-year-old who accused a Baton Rouge police officer of leading her to an abandoned lot where she was then sexually assaulted has filed suit against that officer and the department. 

The lawsuit filed by Tramiria Pitcher's attorney is aiming to put some of the blame for what happened on the Baton Rouge Police Department and Chief Murphy Paul, alleging the agency did not properly train its officers. The officer accused, Donald Steele, was arrested last year after Pitcher reported the incident and filed a restraining order.

"Though Ms. Pitcher anxiously awaits the decision of the District Attorney’s Office regarding
Officer Steele’s prosecution, this lawsuit is about a young lady taking the power away from a
predator and placing it into her own hands," her attorney, Ron Haley, said in a statement. "Our office is proud to call her a client and looks forward to continuing to fight beside her as she courageously tells her story."

Arrest documents said Steele stopped the college student along Burbank Drive in June 2021 because he suspected her of drinking and driving, despite the fact he was not supposed to be patrolling that area. 

During the stop, Steele reportedly told the woman he didn't want to arrest her "because she's pretty," according to her attorney. Arrest records also allege Steel shooed off a pair of LSU police officers who pulled up during the stop to see if he needed assistance, telling them he was "out with his sister and everything was OK."

Steele is then accused of leading the victim to an abandoned warehouse where he took her phone, asked her sexually explicit questions, grabbed her breast and forcibly kissed her. 

"In fear of being arrested, she gets in her car and does what the officer says," her attorney told WBRZ last year.

GPS data later showed Steele was in that area around the time of the assault. 

Steele was booked in August on charges of second-degree kidnapping, malfeasance and misdemeanor sexual battery.

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