In Baton Rouge, More Allegations of Police Misconduct After Hurricane Katrina

Published on
by
ProPublica

In Baton Rouge, More Allegations of Police Misconduct After Hurricane Katrina

by
A.C. Thompson

Yesterday, the Baton Rouge Advocate published a damning exposé detailing allegations of misconduct by Baton Rouge police officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

After a four-year legal battle, the paper finally got a cache of police
department documents describing a pattern of racist and abusive
behavior by Baton Rouge officers in the days after the storm ravaged
the Gulf coast. The cops are accused of using demeaning language;
routinely harassing African Americans; physically abusing citizens; and
seeking to "make life rough for New Orleans evacuees so they would
leave town," according to the Advocate, which has posted the documents online.

Here's the twist: The accusations were made by other cops, 55 state
troopers from New Mexico and Michigan who had been sent to Baton Rouge
to assist with post-storm policing. The out-of-state cops were yanked
out of Baton Rouge after only two days because of their concerns about
misconduct.

The visiting officers said Baton Rouge cops referred to African
Americans as "heathens" and "animals" that "needed to be beaten down."

In response to the newspaper's questions, Baton Rouge Police Chief
Jeff LeDuff said some of the allegations against his officers were
"maybe blown out of proportion." He also said his department had
investigated the incidents and dealt with any policy violations
uncovered.

Five years after the hurricane, controversy about police tactics in the
aftermath of the disaster continues to swirl. In recent weeks, two former New Orleans cops have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to high-profile shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Federal agents are investigating four other police shooting incidents from the time period.

We're covering these violent encounters in an ongoing series with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS "Frontline."

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