I-TEAM: Attorney alleges client brutally beaten in BRPD ‘torture warehouse’

An attorney claims his client was brutally beaten in a ‘torture warehouse’ that some members of the Baton Rouge Police Department call the ‘Brave Cave’.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 6:31 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An attorney claims his client was brutally beaten in a ‘torture warehouse’ that some members of the Baton Rouge Police Department call the ‘Brave Cave’.

Jeremy Lee was arrested back on January 9, 2023, after BRPD officers show up to a home on Cadillac Street looking for guns and drugs. At some point, officers, including Troy Lawrence, Jr., search the man. When that man ends up on the ground, Lawrence threatened to beat him if he keeps struggling. Police took Lee into custody and, hours later, drove him away in a BRPD unit. That is when one officer can be heard telling others over the radio where he’s headed.

RELATED: Mayor, police chief seek comprehensive investigation into ‘Brave Cave’ hours after WAFB I-TEAM report

“That’s 10-4… in route to the Brave Cave,” one officer can be heard saying.

The “Brave Cave” is a place WAFB had never heard of until now. The next time Lee can be seen, he’s being questioned inside the Brave Cave, which looks much like a warehouse. Body cam footage picks back up inside the Brave Cave, where Lee can be seen grabbing his stomach. His attorney, Ryan Thompson, says a knot can be seen on Lee’s forehead. He claims his client was beaten at the facility while the cameras were off.

The attorney says he gave the WAFB I-TEAM all the video he received after his subpoena to police but none of the videos show an actual beating and it’s unclear whether any such video exists. Thompson calls it troubling.

“In our view it almost seems like they take people to what we consider a black site, an area where there’s not many cameras and where people don’t really know about it and they can essentially hold you there until they decide what to do with you,” said Thompson. “I believe that he was taken to this room because there were no cameras in this room, and it was to actually beat my client. I believe that’s what it was for.”

Earlier Monday, August 28, 2023, WAFB asked a BRPD spokesman about the secretive place called the Brave Cave. At first, he said he had never heard of the place and would look into it. Within the hour, he called back telling us there are cameras in the facility and it’s typically used by narcotics and street crimes officers for certain interrogations. Attorney Thompson says his client and others detained that night were all brought there, and he claims as soon as his client was taken inside the Brave Cave, officer Troy Lawrence, Jr. attacked him.

“Witnesses that were outside this garage, they could hear him screaming,” said Thompson. “That’s when they say other officers who were there were saying ‘you’re up next, do you want some too?’.”

After Lee was questioned, he was taken to EBR Parish Prison, but the attorney says staff refused to take him until he was treated at the hospital because his injuries were so severe. According to medical records obtained by the WAFB I-TEAM, Lee was found to have a fractured rib, chest pain and abrasions to the head when he was check out at the hospital. The attorney says he was only given one police report from that night, which was prepared by officer Troy Lawrence, Jr. Thompson calls the report bogus, saying it paints a much different picture than what he believes really happened to his client.

“It’s not very detailed at all. It’s like was anyone injured? No. Well we know that not to be true because Jeremy Lee, my client, was taken to the hospital for injuries,” Thompson explained. “So how can you say that there were no injuries and no need for any medical care when he was taken to the hospital?”

Thompson says someone from BRPD needs to answer for what really happened inside the Brave Cave. WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked the attorney if he has been able to talk to anyone at BRPD to get answers about the facility his client was taken to that night.

“They did say it is a substation but there haven’t been any comments about this alleged black room, this site, this room, this garage where there are no cameras. We did file an internal affairs complaint. They did reach back out to us and told us that they were aware of the complaint and that they would follow up with us. I haven’t heard anything since then,” said Thompson.

Thompson says he filed a complaint with BRPD in January but has not heard back. Now, he’s filing a lawsuit alleging police misconduct and says he is hoping for more accountability. Above all, he wants officer Troy Lawrence, Jr. to be stripped of his badge, something he believes should have happened long before now.

“It makes me want to ask the question what makes him so special,” said Thompson. “I don’t know the answer to that but if this officer is not stopped and taken off the street, he’s going to kill someone.”

Troy Lawrence, Jr. has been the subject of several reports by the WAFB I-TEAM. In fact, he’s currently on leave as Internal Affairs investigates a video showing him punching, pushing and grabbing a man’s hair while trying to force him into the back of a unit. The officer’s actions have also cost taxpayers’ money with the city settling one lawsuit after another tied to his behavior, including one where he drug a woman from her car by her wrist. He’s also faced internal complaints from his own fellow officers, including when he tried to fight one of his supervisors. When interviewed by Internal Affairs, that same supervisor said he did not feel comfortable working with Lawrence because he did not know what he was capable of doing.

“It’s no secret, this is the son of a senior official at BRPD,” said Thompson. “Why has he not been terminated? Why does he get so many opportunities for remediation and for training when clearly at some point someone needs to say this isn’t going to work out, he needs to be taken off the street.”

It’s worth noting his father is Troy Lawrence, Sr., a BRPD deputy chief, and this attorney questions what, if anything, will be done about this officer’s behavior.

“We hope that there’s some changes within the department that comes from this, and we also hope that Troy Lawrence Jr. is individually held accountable,” said Thompson. “He needs to be fired.”

A spokesman with BRPD released the following statement to the WAFB I-TEAM regarding the Brave Cave.

“Baton Rouge Police Narcotics and Street Crimes Team sometimes use a separate processing area for prisoner intake. This area is located behind our 1st District Uniform Patrol building. That building was used prior to BRPD HQ, located at 9000 Airline Hwy, and was used as detective office that housed the Narcotics, Armed Robbery, Burglary and Latent Prints Division. This area is equipped with multiple cameras, both inside and out, interview rooms and a prisoner processing area.”

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