BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – High-profile Baton Rouge criminal rights and defense attorney Ron Haley filed a class action lawsuit Friday against the Baton Rouge Police Department over its strip-search policies.
This lawsuit comes amid an FBI investigation into a now-disbanded Street Crimes Unit that allegedly used a facility as a “torture warehouse” where beatings and inappropriate strip searches would occur.
Haley claims in his lawsuit that his client, Bobby Hardnett, was sitting on a friend’s porch in January 2023 when officers pulled up and placed him in a police car without telling him why he was being taken into custody. Haley also claims that Hardnett was taken to a police building on Plank Road, forced to strip naked and was searched with a flashlight for 12 minutes.
According to the suit, Hardnett was never told the reason for the search and was never charged with a crime.
“However, the strip search had accomplished the officers’ goal,” the suit said. “Hardnett had been humiliated and traumatized by their unconscionable and unconstitutional search.”
Haley claims that the officers dropped Hardnett off and “as they dropped him off that he and others would be forced to go through the same ordeal again if they saw him.”
“The implication of the officers’ communication was that they would conduct illegal strip
searches on anyone they suspected of criminal behavior, regardless of whether there was
any evidence to support that suspicion, let alone probable cause to arrest,” the suit said.
Along with damages for his client, Haley is asking the court to declare the Baton Rouge Police Department’s strip-searching practices unconstitutional and block the police from strip searches without establishing probable cause.
The Baton Rouge Police Department said they cannot comment on pending litigation.