The scandal-plagued Baton Rouge, La., Police Department has charged three of its own officers, including a deputy chief, with trying to cover up excessive force during a strip search inside a department bathroom, the police chief announced Friday. The department is under intensifying scrutiny as the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into allegations that officers assaulted detainees in a warehouse known as the “Brave Cave." The officers who were arrested Thursday were part of the same since-disbanded street crimes unit that ran the warehouse. “Lets be crystal clear, there is no room for misconduct or unethical behavior in our department,” Chief Murphy Paul said at a news conference Friday, the Associated Press reports. “No one is above the law.”
The findings stemmed from one of several administrative and criminal inquiries surrounding the street crimes unit. In one case under FBI scrutiny, a man says he was taken to the warehouse and beaten so severely he needed hospital care before being booked into jail. In another, a woman claims she was strip searched, with an officer using a flashlight to scan her body. Paul said Friday’s finding are from an attempted strip search in September 2020, when two officers from the unit allegedly hit a suspect and shocked him with their stun guns. The episode was captured by body-worn cameras that the officers didn’t know were turned on. They later tried to “get rid of” the video after a supervisor determined the officers had used excessive force. Paul said the officers were directed to get rid of the camera so that the ”evidence could not be downloaded.” The officers charged include Troy Lawrence Sr., a deputy chief. Lawrence’s son, Troy Lawrence Jr., is a former Baton Rouge police officer who has been at the center of allegations surrounding the street crimes unit. This month he was arrested on a simple battery charge.