Baton Rouge police open new investigation after accusation of child sexual assault, brutality in federal lawsuit

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Baton Rouge Police Department has begun an internal investigation after a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Feb, 21, accused officers of sexual battery against a minor, hitting two teens, and strip-searching a woman at the Brave Cave last year.

The police department issued a statement Wednesday and said they received a complaint filed by attorney Jessica Hawkins, on behalf of Lakeisha Varnado and her three minor children.

“The complaint was made in regards to allegations of Officer misconduct during the June 6, 2023 arrest of (5) Juvenile Suspects for gun-related charges and Ms. Varnado for improper supervision of minors,” police said in a statement. “The arrests were made after several complaints of Juveniles firing various firearms in the area; those complaints and ShotSpotter reports led Detectives to prepare a search warrant for the residence. During the search of the residence, Detectives seized (5) handguns and (1) rifle. The Baton Rouge Police Department received this complaint well after a lawsuit was prepared and the media was notified of alleged Officer misconduct.”

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According to the lawsuit, Varnado and her three sons were woken up in the early morning on June 6, 2023, to BRPD officers busting down the doors and windows of their home. They were taken to the Brave Cave.

The suit said that Varnado was strip-searched. Her 11-year-old son asked to use the bathroom and one of the officers reportedly strip-searched and cavity-searched him, including touching- his genitals. The 15-year-old was separated from his mom and put into a holding cell. The suit said an officer choked and punched the teenager so hard that he was knocked out.

Police said they take all officer misconduct allegations seriously and Chief Thomas Morse Jr. immediately assigned it to Internal Affairs to begin an investigation.

“Upon completion of the investigation, we are committed to being transparent in our findings. This is an active, ongoing investigation,” police said.

Read the entire statement below.

At approximately 10:00 AM on Tuesday, February 20th 2024, the Baton Rouge Police Department received an online Internal Affairs complaint filed by Attorney Jessica Hawkins, on behalf of “Ms. Lakeisha Varnado and three minor children”. A lawsuit was also attached to the online complaint. The complaint was made in regards to allegations of Officer misconduct during the June 6, 2023 arrest of (5) Juvenile Suspects for gun-related charges and Ms. Varnado for improper supervision of minors. The arrests were made after several complaints of Juveniles firing various firearms in the area; those complaints and ShotSpotter reports led Detectives to prepare a search warrant for the residence. During the search of the residence, Detectives seized (5) handguns and (1) rifle. The Baton Rouge Police Department received this complaint well after a lawsuit was prepared and the media was notified of alleged Officer misconduct.

The Baton Rouge Police Department takes all allegations of Officer misconduct seriously, and Chief Morse verified the complaint was immediately assigned to Internal Affairs to begin a thorough investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, we are committed to being transparent in our findings. This is an active, ongoing investigation.

Chief Morse would like to remind the community that we have several ways to make complaints against Officers for alleged misconduct, including our online form, available at www.brpd.com. If you feel that you were treated improperly by an Officer, please do not hesitate in letting us know as soon as possible. The sooner we learn of an incident, the sooner we can begin an investigation and preserve any related evidence, to ensure a thorough investigation.

Baton Rouge Police Department

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