I have been a supporter of newly appointed Chief of Police in Baton Rouge Murphy Paul. I sat through the interview process and listened to the candidates state their position on issues. I have since had the opportunity to talk with the chief on a few occasions and believe he is a good man. However, I cannot be silent in expressing my disappointment in three awards that were given out last night at a ceremony for police officers in Baton Rouge.
Three officers were given awards and each of them were involved in incidents that still have unanswered questions within this community. According to The Advocate, “Officer Yusef Hamadeh fatally shot a man who police said had pulled a gun during a June 13, 2017 traffic stop. Officer Darrel Carter Jr. fatally shot a man who police said gained control of Carter’s stun gun and pointed it at the officer on Nov. 12.” Also included in the awards ceremony is officer Robin Ducote who was caught on video on October 24, 2017 plotting to lie.
According to The Advocate the award for Officer Hamadeh reads, “As they exited their marked unit, Officer Hamadeh quickly observed the passenger exiting his vehicle with a handgun.” It goes on to say, “Officer Hamadeh acted without hesitation to protect his trainee from an apparent ambush.” The truth is Officer Hamadeh shot 35 year old Jordan Frazier in the back and killed him. Frazier was running away from Officer Hamadeh and was shot in the back twice and the leg once.
Officer Darrel Carter Jr. shot and killed 24 year old Calvin Toney. Officer Carter was accompanying a social worker on a child welfare call. It is unclear exactly what happened that caused him to shoot Toney, because the body cam footage from the killing has still not been released for the public to view. The community has been told this incident isn’t what we “heard” but the community has still yet to see proof of what took place in that apartment in November. Photos surfaced of Toney handcuffed with his pants down, unarmed outside the apartment after he was shot and killed.
Officer Robin Ducote was caught on body cam footage saying, “I want to get her out of this truck, and let’s search the truck,” Another officer asked her, “Do you have p-c?” Officer Ducote goes on to say, ”Yeah, they are both f****** passed out,” Ducote responds. “So, if we find something, we say it’s in plain view. Who gives a s***, we’re writing this report.” Ducote was plotting to lie and caught on camera.
Chief Paul, you just got the job in January, but this is unacceptable. The actions of these officers remain in question in the community, because the department has not done a good job letting the public clearly know what happened. You have a training officer riding in a car with out dash or body cam footage available, the officer kills a man by shooting him in the back twice and gets an award? We have another officer who kills a man in an apartment, we see photos of the slain citizen with his hands cuffed and pants down, unarmed. You give that officer an award? Then to pour salt on our wounds you give an award to an officer that we see on tape plotting to lie in a report. How exactly is the community to build trust with these dynamics at play?
At best this is the worst PR move I’ve ever seen. At worst it is just disrespectful to the families of those who lost their lives at the hands of your officers. It is also disrespectful to the citizens of this community who simply want a better police department. While I applaud some of the changes that have been made in the Baton Rouge Police Department since the hiring of Chief Murphy Paul, I cannot ignore the insensitivity and disrespect of these awards.
If we award officers for killing citizens and those who lie on tape, what message do we send to other officers and citizens? It’s almost like saying, killing people and lying will get you an award in the Baton Rouge Police Department.