BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Four Baton Rouge police officers have been arrested since an investigation into officers’ misconduct started in late August.
The Baton Rouge Police Department Street Crimes Unit was terminated after allegations of beatings and strip-searches tied to a warehouse used by the police dubbed the Brave Cave. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved as the police department conducts an administrative and criminal investigation.
The mayor and the FBI are asking for information about allegations of police misconduct.
The mayor and BRPD have given updates since August. Here’s what to know about the timeline of events as an investigation is ongoing.
Timeline of the investigations, lawsuits filed and arrests
Tuesday, Aug. 29
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome calls for an investigation into the Brave Cave, which she described as a facility tied to reports of “serious allegations.” In a news conference, the mayor said operations of the building used by Baton Rouge police were suspended pending an investigation.
BRPD Chief of Staff Deputy Myron Daniels clarified the building’s use, saying it was a narcotic processing facility for the police department.
One BRPD officer, Troy Lawrence Jr., resigned.
A lawsuit against Lawrence says he reportedly attacked four people within 90 seconds, falsely arrested two of them and used excessive force while almost hurting other officers who tried to de-escalate the situation.
Thursday, Aug. 31
Broome gave an update about the investigation, announcing that the Street Crimes Unit was terminated as the police department launched a criminal investigation.
The mayor told Baton Rouge residents, “We will handle this matter with transparency, accountability and fairness.”
Monday, Sept. 18
In a morning news conference, attorney Ryan Thompson announced a federal lawsuit, saying his client and her husband were stopped by BRPD officers on Juneteenth and taken to the Brave Cave, where she was allegedly strip searched.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
BRPD officers Sgt. Jesse Barcelona and Cpl. Todd Thomas were placed on administrative leave. The police department confirmed that Barcelona was a supervisor in the disbanded Street Crimes Unit.
Former officer Troy Lawrence Jr. was arrested and issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery concerning an incident unrelated to the Brave Cave investigation. Police said body camera footage showed Lawrence use a stun gun to dry stun a handcuffed suspect around 8:35 p.m. Aug. 8 in the 6300 block of Airline Highway.
Friday, Sept. 22
A federal investigation is opened into Brave Cave allegations by the New Orleans FBI, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.
The New Orleans FBI office asks for information about allegations of police misconduct via 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or tips.fbi.gov.
Wednesday, Sept. 27
The father of former officer Troy Lawrence Jr., Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr., is placed on administrative leave.
Broome pens a letter about the allegations the police department faces, saying, “I encourage anyone with information about these cases, or allegations related to these cases, to come forward.”
She directed residents to file official complaints on BRPD’s website.
The East Baton Rouge Metro Council discussed the Brave Cave investigation. BRPD Chief Murphy Paul spoke at the meeting, firing back at council members with a heated speech.
“You strip my funding,” Paul said in part. “Are you gonna pay the attorney all the money that I already owe them for the bad cops that the civil service board where we gonna be here tomorrow and none of y’all gonna be here, and y’all sitting here trying to deal off these people’s emotions and some of y’all the problem, Jen Racca. You sit there, defund, defund the police department’s budget from a legal standpoint, and then come here cause I don’t have legal representation and I gotta play lawyer to fight these bad actors. Let’s talk facts.”
Thursday, Sept. 28
District 8 Council Member Denise Amoroso released a statement, calling on Paul to resign immediately after his “unprofessional” behavior at the council meeting.
Paul was already set to resign in November.
Three Baton Rouge police officers were arrested and charged concerning Brave Cave allegations. An arrest warrant was out for a fourth officer facing a charge of malfeasance in office.
Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr. was charged with principal to simple battery, principal to obstruction of justice, malfeasance in office and principal to theft.
Barcelona was charged with principal to obstruction of justice, malfeasance in office and principal to theft.
Thomas was charged with theft, obstruction of justice, malfeasance in office and simple battery.
Friday, Sept. 29
Paul revealed more information after the officers’ arrests. The officers are accused of strip-searching and using a stun gun on an arrested man. He said officers didn’t realize a body camera was on and later planned a coverup.
Monday, Oct. 2
A fourth officer, identified as Douglas Chutz, was arrested and charged with malfeasance in office.