A grandmother is suing the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) after allegedly being “sexually humiliated” inside a “torture warehouse” after a traffic stop, she claims in a lawsuit as the department reels from the fallout of the now-shuttered facility.
The department is facing compounding scrutiny after the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into a facility nicknamed the “Brave Cave,” stemming from lawsuits filed by Ternell Brown and Jeremy Lee in September and August, respectively.
Four officers are facing criminal charges stemming from that investigation.
Brown, 47, claims she was “sexually humiliated” during unnecessary strip and body cavity searches in the facility on June 10.
Fox News Digital could not obtain incident reports from the Baton Rouge Police Department at press time.
Ryan Thompson, one of the attorneys representing Brown in her suit, told Fox News Digital that “there are still reports [of alleged abuse in the torture warehouse] coming in” to their office; at least one is tenable, he said, and “another lawsuit will be filed on his behalf very soon.”
BRPD Public Information Officer L’Jean McKneely told Fox News Digital that the department “is committed to addressing these troubling accusations and has initiated administrative and criminal investigations.”
“Chief [Murphy] Paul met with FBI officials and requested their assistance to ensure an independent review of these complaints,” McKneely wrote in an email. “The Narcotics Processing Facility has been permanently closed and the Street Crimes Unit has been disbanded and reassigned.”
Brown was pulled over for her vehicle’s window tint on June 10, per body camera footage reviewed by Fox News Digital.
Officers asked her and her husband to stand outside the car with their hands on the back hood.
After spotting an open Twisted Tea, they searched the vehicle and found two different types of pills prescribed to Brown stored together in the same bottle.
Brown’s attorneys allege that their client told officers “at least four times” that the pills were legally prescribed to her and claim that their combined storage is not illegal.
Regardless, they wrote, officers “forcibly” took Brown and her husband to the “Brave Cave.” There, per the lawsuit, Brown underwent illegal strip and body cavity searches.
Thompson told Fox News Digital that a medical professional must execute these searches per department policy, a measure that was not taken in Brown’s case. A supervisor should be called for clearance, and then a warrant must be filed with a judge or magistrate, he said. To perform a body cavity search, the lawyer said, “something needs to be found” to warrant it during a body cavity search, and nothing was found in the searches of Brown and Lee.
“There is supposed to be documentation for why a strip search is needed. I have not seen any documentation as far as the findings and the reasoning,” Thompson said.
In Lee’s case, police took him into a squad car after they carried out a warrant on a North Baton Rouge home, where they found Lee sitting on the porch.
Thompson alleges Lee was held in another squad car for “hours” before an officer “put on a certain [intimidating] rap song”; when they arrived at the warehouse, Thompson said, the officers can be seen taking off their body-worn cameras as they ushered Lee inside.
There, a criminal complaint shows, Lee supposedly “charged at [officers],” Thompson said. Allegedly, one of the officers knocked Lee down with a leg sweep before other officers began to kick him.
Later footage, taken from a body worn camera placed between one of the officer’s legs, shows a protracted period of questioning after the alleged beating.
“All types of things – does he know this rapper, are you familiar with this rap group, can you give us any information. It’s intelligence gathering,” Thompson said. “I would not say that the types of questions were illegal, but the manner in which it was done was unconstitutional – you have a right to counsel present, you have a right to be Mirandized.”
Both the office of East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney Anderson Dotson, who represents the police department, and the Baton Rouge Union of Police declined to comment due to pending litigation.
The FBI investigation into the department is ongoing.