Three Baton Rouge Police Department officers have been placed on administrative leave as investigations continue into an alleged police “torture warehouse” in Louisiana dubbed the Brave Cave.
Among the three now on leave is Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announced Wednesday. The deputy chief is a high-ranking member of the department whose son, former officer Troy Lawrence Jr., was named in a federal lawsuit alleging brutal and sexually humiliating interrogation tactics at the off-site warehouse.
The son, Lawrence Jr., who has since resigned from the police force, was arrested and charged last week in a separate battery incident, according to authorities.
“We will hold ourselves accountable,” Paul said at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled city council meeting. “The investigative efforts will yield accountability that will meet community expectations.”
CNN has reached out to Deputy Chief Lawrence’s attorney for comment.
Multiple investigations are underway into the police department’s practices and the now-shuttered warehouse facility, including by the FBI and Baton Rouge Police, according to Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. “I know we are all committed to accountability, justice and reform,” Broome said.
The police department is also facing lawsuits over the conduct of officers at the warehouse, which officers allegedly referred to as the “brave cave,” according to complaints made this year.
The complaints allege detainees taken to the facility were beaten or subjected to strip searches.
The warehouse, officially known as the Narcotics Processing Facility, “has been permanently closed and the Street Crimes Unit Officers have been disbanded and reassigned,” according to a previous police department statement.
The latest lawsuit filed last week alleges a Baton Rouge grandmother, Ternell Brown, was stopped by officers while she was in the car with her husband in June. Brown was carrying two different types of prescription pills in the same container, “which she lawfully possessed,” it reads.
The grandmother “was taken to BRPD’s black site, where she was forced to show officers that she was not hiding contraband in her vagina or rectum. After more than two hours, they let her go without charge,” the complaint states.
Another lawsuit, filed last month, alleges Baton Rouge resident Jeremy Lee, 21, was taken to the warehouse on January 9 and beaten as the officers periodically turned their body cameras on and off.
Before being taken to the warehouse, Lee had been detained at a home “without reasonable suspicion or probable cause,” said the complaint. He was forced down in the middle of the street, his pants were pulled down so they could search him – in public – and officers grabbed his genitals. When he asked, the officers refused to tell him why he was being arrested, according to the complaint.
Jessica F. Hawkins, an attorney representing both plaintiffs, has said that she is “receiving calls daily from Baton Rouge residents who were taken to this black site and illegally strip searched.”
“These instances of abuse need to be properly investigated and addressed and whoever carried out these atrocities needs to be held accountable,” Hawkins said in a news release.
CNN has reached out to attorneys for Troy Lawrence, the police union and others named in the lawsuit for comment but has not yet heard back.
The Baton Rouge Union of Police released a statement saying it is “disheartened and dismayed” by the disciplinary action taken against Lawrence.
The alleged incident that led to the discipline was from more than three years ago, according to Union spokesperson Bill Profita.
The details about evidence and witnesses may be “hard to come by” due to the amount of time that has passed, Profita said.
“The Baton Rouge Union of Police has always stood for a full and fair accounting of any incidents or allegations made against our fellow officers; we have also always called for a fair and complete investigation, where warranted, under the full light of day,” he said.
“At this juncture, we can only see nebulous accusations that will only serve to damage the individual officer and the reputation of the office that he held prior to being placed on administrative leave,” Profita said.
CNN has reached out to the Baton Rouge Police Department to ask why Lawrence was placed on leave.
The FBI released a statement Monday saying that it is investigating the Baton Rouge Police Department as well as “allegations that members of the department may have abused their authority.”
“Experienced prosecutors and agents are now reviewing the matter for potential federal violations,” the FBI added.
Meanwhile, former officer Lawrence, Jr., is facing a misdemeanor charge of simple battery after bodycam footage showed he “drive stunned” a handcuffed person with a Taser in the back of patrol car in August, according to a statement from Baton Rouge Police.
Lawrence was issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery on September 20 and released, the department said.