Close-up of the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the wall of J Edgar Hoover FBI Building, Washington DC, January 21, 2017. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

FBI Investigates Police-Sanctioned Torture in Louisiana

The Baton Rouge Police Department has a history of corruption and misconduct, and a torture warehouse known as the “Brave Cave” is its latest offense. A civil rights investigation into allegations of abuse and mistreatment of detained individuals in the Brave Cave was opened last Friday. BRPD Police Chief Murphy Paul alerted the FBI upon learning about the warehouse.

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The abuse of one such detainee, Jeremy Lee, brought the issue to Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s attention, and she swiftly shut the warehouse down. Lee was detained by police in January of this year and was beaten so severely that he required medical attention for broken bones and other injuries. The officers involved were identified as Troy Lawrence Jr., Joseph Carboni, and Matthew Wallace. Lee filed a lawsuit against the police department in August. Since Lee has come forward, dozens of other victims have spoken out with similar experiences.

Ternell Brown is another victim of BRPD abuse of authority. In June of this year, she was pulled over (the reason for the stop remains unclear), taken to the Brave Cave, stripped and cavity-searched, then released without any charges. Three officers were involved, two of whom were also responsible for Lee’s injuries: Troy Lawrence Jr. and Matthew Wallace. One of the officers remains anonymous. The lawsuit claims that the officers switched off their body cameras for the duration of Brown’s detainment.

The warehouse was run by the Baton Rouge Street Crimes Unit, which employed officers with a history of violence. Since the Brave Cave has been shut down and an investigation opened, at least one officer has resigned and been charged with battery.

The killing of Alton Sterling in 2016 drew public attention to the many instances of brutality at the hands of the BRPD and highlighted the pervasive culture of violence within law enforcement. The Baton Rouge Street Crimes Unit has been disbanded.

(featured image: Mark Reinstein, Corbis via Getty Images)

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