Community activist says, a former EBRSO deputy’s tear drop photo crossed the line

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“You took a life, that’s nothing to celebrate, that’s nothing to brag about. There’s no stripe earned.”

Baton Rouge’s NAACP President, Eugene Collins said, the officer in a controversial photo crossed the line.

“The tear drop on his face, let’s not mix anything, we know that that mean” said Collins.

Friday morning, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office confirmed, a picture of former deputy James Hammett was sent out via text. In a statement, EBRSO said, a second deputy, Kalya Clark took the photo saying, “the picture and text was in reference to Hammett’s sadness at doing time on administrative duty.”

“First and foremost, let’s start with the lack of sensitivity.”

Two months to this day, on September 15, Hammett was placed on leave after shooting and killing 54-year-old Melvin Watkins. The Louisiana State Police ruled that shooting, justified.

“It’s something that we cannot tolerate in this town form public servants we have to do a better job to ensure these people never where badges and never wear uniforms.”

Casey Hicks with the Sheriff’s Office said, following the picture being circulated, an investigation was scheduled to be launched. She said, when the deputies were notified of the investigation, they resigned.

“It was quite cowardly that he resigned before he could face the music.”

The attached picture is of a text message received by Uniform Patrol Captain Jared Ruiz of Kleinpeter substation on the afternoon of Friday October 11th. It came from a personal cell phone belonging to Dy. Kayla Clark that was working light duty on shift with the pictured deputy, James Hammett (was also on administrative duty).

East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office

Captain Ruiz called and notified Uniform Patrol Major Ricky Klug of the text he received and on the following business day, Monday October 14th. Major Klug met with and notified Colonel White that Monday concerning the text. In an abundance of caution Colonel White notified Internal Affairs to investigate to determine if any policy violations occurred. The Internal Affairs investigator/commander notified the Colonel he would be out of the office in training and would return on October 28th and would conduct an investigation at that time.

Colonel White instructed Major Klug to counsel both involved parties and make them aware that there would be an investigation. Major Klug stated that during his verbal counsel on October 14th the deputy that sent the text stated that she was trying to cheer up the other deputy because he was sad that he was not allowed on the road at this time and was on administrative duty. She stated the picture and text was in reference to his sadness at “doing time” on administrative duty rather than working on patrol. The deputy pictured said that he felt that she was being silly in an effort to cheer him up. Major Klug notified both that an internal affairs investigation would be conducted when the Internal Affairs investigator returned.

The female deputy put in her voluntary resignation on October 21st (effective the following week) citing difficulties with shift work and family life. The pictured deputy gave his voluntary resignation on October 22nd (effective October 26th) citing other unrelated personal reasons (please see previous emails related to this).

East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office

Neither deputy had any previous disciplinary actions nor internal affairs investigations. I’m attaching their personnel files. Neither had office issued cell phones. We have no further comment on this matter.

East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office

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