The FBI it has opened a civil rights investigation into allegations that police in Baton Rouge, La., assaulted drug suspects they detained in a warehouse known as the “Brave Cave.” In one case, a man says he was taken to the warehouse and beaten so severely he needed hospital care before being jailed. In another, a woman claims she was strip-searched, with an officer using a flashlight to scan her body. Since the first complaint was filed last month, the mayor has ordered the facility closed, the police department has disbanded its street crimes unit and an officer at the center of the allegations — the son of a current deputy chief — resigned and was arrested on a battery charge, reports the Associated Press.
FBI officials confirmed that the agency has opened an investigation based on “allegations that members of the department may have abused their authority.” This latest scandal adds to a long list of corruption and misconduct allegations plaguing the Baton Rouge Police Department, which came under scrutiny after the 2016 fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man. In 2021, a corruption probe into the department’s narcotics division led to criminal charges and internal discipline against officers accused of stealing drugs from evidence and lying on police reports. Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul, who was hired to lead the agency after Sterling’s killing, said he was so concerned over the warehouse claims that he drove to the FBI’s New Orleans office and asked it to review the allegations. “There were some mistakes made,” Paul told AP, acknowledging that his internal affairs division initially failed to investigate. “I promise you we will get to the bottom of this.” In a lawsuit last week, Ternell Brown alleges officers pulled her over in June, took her to the same “black site” and strip-searched her for “contraband.” She was released when officers concluded the prescription drugs in her possession were legal.