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Spanish Town carjacking suspect never booked, community asks why

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BATON ROUGE - A teen accused of a carjacking near downtown Baton Rouge was caught by police, but juvenile detention refused to take him. People who live in the neighborhood where it happened want to know why the teenager is back on the street.

The carjacking happened Oct. 17 around 1:30 a.m. near North Street and Ninth Street. A member of the Spanish Town Civic Association, who does not want to be identified, is terrified over the incident.

"I don't live far from where it happened," she said.

Surveillance video from that morning shows an 18-wheeler parked on the street. A car pulls along side it and brake lights are activated. Then a car pulls in a driveway behind that 18-wheeler and parks. Two individuals are seen coming behind and one appears to be holding a weapon. They open the car door, pointing at the driver. That driver exits and the two individuals get in the car and back out of the driveway.

Baton Rouge police officers found the car and one of the carjackers, a juvenile.

"Law enforcement is great and they're trying to do their job but, you know, there's a broken line somewhere," said the woman.

Police did their job, but when they took the teen to the juvenile detention facility they weren't booked.

"He was taken to a juvenile facility and because he didn't have his medicine he was turned away," she said.

According to BRPD, the teen said they were sick and the juvenile detention center refused them. Instead, they were released to a parent.

"He didn't have his medication. Well, gee he felt pretty healthy when it was going down so did he need his medication," said the civic association member.

The juvenile facility is run by the City-Parish. According to District Attorney Hillar Moore, the majority of the offenders in juvenile jail are there for homicide or other crimes of violence.

"Judges have to make a decision, do you let one person out to make room for another?" Moore said.

While inmate damage from last year has been repaired, it's been hard to find civilian workers willing to fill positions dealing with violent offenders. A new facility is needed, but they are expensive to build.

"The issues have been brought up for decades, we have to resolve it," Moore said.

In this case in Spanish Town, it appears BRPD charged the teen with armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm, resisting an officer, possession of drugs, theft and more. The Spanish Town Civic Association is angry over what happened knowing the people involved in the October crime are on the street.

"I guess there's no punishment for it," said the civic association member.

There's been a recent push to make downtown Baton Rouge safer. Police now patrol the area 24-7. The Spanish Town Civic Association says it's constantly watching out for one another and many homes have surveillance cameras. While they want to keep the area safe and not feel threatened, in an instance like this one they fear it might be harder to do when accountability is lacking.

The City-Parish provided the following statement about the juvenile detention center's policy: 

The arresting agency is charged with contacting a youth's guardians upon booking to determine whether the youth has any needed medication. Based on the information received, the law enforcement officer should retrieve the medication prior to the youth being brought to the detention facility. The officer should always make an attempt to obtain the needed medication. If officers are unable to secure medication for serious illness after making an attempt, they can take the youth to the emergency room to receive clearance that the youth can be admitted without required medications. The detention center frequently accepts youth without medication if it is not for a serious medical condition.

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