Baton Rouge officers sued after kneeling on teen
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge police officers filmed kneeling on a teen’s body are being sued.
Video of the incident surfaced on social media in July of 2020, just months after an officer in Minneapolis came under national scrutiny for contributing to a suspect’s death by kneeling on their neck.
An attorney who sued the department on the teen’s behalf this week accuses officers of taking things too far.
Both police and the attorney acknowledge the incident started as a failed traffic stop and high-speed chase.
The attorney says once the car was stopped, the teen, who was riding in the car as a passenger, complied with officer’s demands.
Afterward, an officer pointed a weapon at the teen then used his knee to pin the teen to the ground, according to the lawsuit.
“[The teen] informed the officers that he has asthma to which one of the officers can be heard on body camera footage replying, ‘I don’t give a damn,’ the lawsuit says.
Facing an onslaught of public criticism, police chief Murphy Paul ordered the release of several videos of the encounter. Paul also released a photo from the scene which he argues shows the officer’s knee on the teen’s back, not his neck.
Baton Rouge Police Department policy does allow officers to restrain suspects by placing a knee on the person’s back, agency leaders said. They are trained with the proper technique in the police academy. However, officers are not allowed to use their knees to restrict a suspect.
The issue of the officer’s knee placement will likely become a key sticking point should the case make it to trial.
Another argument included in the lawsuit asks a jury to consider whether officers should have ended the chase when it reached neighborhoods.
Baton Rouge Police Department policy dictates officers should stop following a suspect’s vehicle when a chase poses a risk to public safety, the lawsuit says.
The attorney also lists several violent arrests at the hands of Baton Rouge officers.
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