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NAKAMOTO: Three BRPD officers, including Dep. Chief Lawrence, surrender to face charges

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BATON ROUGE – Several Baton Rouge police officers, including the second-highest ranking in the department, are facing criminal charges over allegations of misconduct and an ensuing cover-up.

Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence and officers Jesse Barcelona and Todd Thomas surrendered Thursday afternoon. The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported earlier this week that each had been placed on administrative leave.

A fourth officer, Doug Chutz, was out of town last week and was booked into jail on Monday. He was released on bond later Monday evening. His bond was set at $15,000.

Sources told WBRZ News 2 that the investigation began on Aug. 30, 2023, when a whistleblower spoke up about the incident three years earlier. It involved a suspect who was strip searched and beaten on Plank Road.

Read more details on the investigation here

When one of the Baton Rouge Police officers used his Taser, it activated his body worn camera. During the encounter, the suspect was not compliant, and one of the officers allegedly struck the suspect.

The body camera was reviewed, the Investigative Unit has learned, and that officer was instructed to get rid of it. A document was fabricated saying it was lost.

Lawrence, Barcelona, and Thomas were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Thursday afternoon. All had bonds set at $30,000 and have since been released.

Charges against Lawrence include Malfeasance, Obstruction, Theft and Principal to Battery.

Barcelona is charged with Principal to Theft and Obstruction and Malfeasance.

Thomas is charged with Simple Battery, Theft and Malfeasance and Obstruction.

Chutz is charged with Malfeasance.

Lawrence's son, who is also an officer, was arrested last week for unrelated concerns.

The newly disclosed incident is not related to the Brave Cave — an alleged torture warehouse that came to light a month ago when lawyer Ryan Thompson filed a lawsuit alleging his client's civil rights were violated.

Following the filing of that lawsuit, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul asked the FBI to assist in the investigation. In a very rare move Friday, the FBI confirmed it is investigating, along with the federal civil rights division.

The FBI typically shies away from confirming the existence of any investigation — usually saying they cannot confirm or deny the existence of one.


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