June 22, 2021 19:40

Police Union says body cam video will vindicate officers in LSU football player encounter

Source: Instagram & Facebook

Brooks Kubena

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

A team of attorneys representing LSU wide receiver Koy Moore is calling for the Baton Rouge Police Department to release body camera footage that they say confirms Moore’s claim that he was harassed and “violated” by police officers Saturday night.

Moore and his family have seen the footage, one of his attorneys said, and they’re disputing the department’s decision not to immediately release the video until an internal investigation is complete. Department officials, for their part, argue the footage doesn’t fall under their “critical incident” policy, which allows for faster release of such evidence in certain cases, namely when an officer’s actions result in serious injury or death.

“Koy wants the world to know that athletes are not immune to police misconduct interactions with police officers,” said Ryan Thompson, one of four attorneys representing Moore in the case.

Thompson also revealed more details about what happened Saturday night.

A police report says the incident occurred after an apartment security guard complained about a loud party atop the parking garage of the Ion apartment complex on Chimes Street, saying there were about 200 people blasting music. BRPD officers responded to 740 West Chimes St. around 1:45 a.m. Sunday.

Thompson said Moore, who lives at the complex, was not a part of the party. A longtime friend of Moore’s, Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden, was visiting, Thompson said, and, after a long night of playing video games, they wanted to grab something to eat.

They entered the parking garage and were about to get in their car.

“Then all of the sudden BRPD comes in,” Thompson said. “Guns are out.”

The body camera footage, Thompson said, shows “exactly what Koy put in his statement.”

Moore posted his experience on Twitter Sunday. He said he was approached by policemen who “pulled guns on me assuming I had a gun and drugs.” They shouted “where’s your gun?” in an incident he said “violated” him “numerous times,” going “as far as trying to unzip my pants in search of a weapon that I repeatedly told them I did not have.”

“It happened fast,” Thompson said. “Got out of the car. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, stop moving.’ Or, ‘We got a phone call on this.’ It was: guns out, ‘Where’s the gun?’ It was fast.”

Moore said he tried to record the incident, but the officers “snatched” the phone away from him. The interaction stopped, Moore said, when he told the officers that they were football players.

“Instantly the interaction stopped,” Thompson said. “And there was a comment by one of the officers in a very condescending way: ‘Good job.’ ‘Congratulations.’ Or something of that sort … As if to say, ‘So what you’re a football player.'”

Thompson said the officers did not explain the situation after it concluded. In the body camera footage, Thompson said, one of the officers said that he “feared for his life.”

Moore, his family and his attorneys have not been given an explanation for why the officers, investigating a party near LSU’s campus, would have suspected the men had drugs and guns.

“We assumed that maybe there was a call of someone waving a gun or something like that, but that wasn’t the case,” Thompson said. “So, I don’t know where the gun came from. I don’t know where the drugs came from. I don’t know where the ‘I feared for my life’ came from. I don’t know. We don’t know.”

BRPD announced Monday that three officers had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation into their behavior during the encounter with Moore.

The department said Tuesday officials will not release bodycam footage of the encounter, citing the ongoing internal investigation. That’s a commonly used exemption to the state public records law, which allows law enforcement agencies to withhold information sometimes for months or years as administrative and criminal investigations drag on.

Because of those delays, the department changed its policy in 2018, promising to at least consider releasing bodycam footage right away in what are considered “critical incidents.” But BRPD spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. said the incident involving Moore doesn’t fall under the new policy.

Critical incidents are defined as follows in the policy: when an officer uses force that results in hospitalization or death, or if the officer intentionally shoots a gun at a person or strikes a person in the head with an impact of a weapon, and when a police vehicle pursuit results in the hospitalization or death of a person, or a detained subject dies in custody.

“We disagree with that definition,” Thompson said. “We believe that this is a critical incident. Obviously, guns were drawn. Someone could have lost their life. But, as it stands right now, the department does not deem this as a critical incident, which would require the video to be released by now.”

A public records request for the footage was filed on behalf of Moore, Thompson said, which kickstarts what can be a drawn out process while his attorneys push for the footage to be released sooner.

Thompson said BRPD Chief Murphy Paul has “assured us that they will thoroughly investigate this matter.” Not long after the department revealed its decision not to release the footage, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome tweeted that she is requesting Paul “expedite the investigation against the backdrop of state law which dictates the investigatory process.”

Among other stipulations in state law, the Louisiana Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights gives officers 30 days to secure counsel before being questioned by investigators for an internal affairs probe.

“As of right now, the city is doing the right thing,” Thompson said. “How this ends, we don’t know yet.”

Lea Skene contributed to this report.


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