I just wrote an article for a journal dealing with police crime and corruption concerning a police abuse case in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and thought it good to share with others concern about police corruption and brutality. The case involves an officer who struck a citizen.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff, a well regarded and respected chief, dismissed Officer Tumaini Rucker for hitting a citizen in the jaw soo hard, that he broke the citizen’s jaw. This was done while the citizen was sitting quietly in the rear of a police unit! The episode was actually caught on tape, including the “thud” of the officer’s strike! The officer is even heard on tape after he struck the victim stating,” I had to get you for that”, or some similar sentence. The police chief quickly fired officer Rucker, and quite naturally he appealed his firing before the police civil service board.
What was particularly upsetting to me and others was that out of the five board members, two voted to reinstate the officer! Even with clear taped evidence, this officer almost was placed back on the streets of Baton Rouge again!
As many of you know, many police chiefs and supervisors “habitually” support and protect their fellow officers, but when a police chief tells you that they have a bad officer, you need to listen! And not only the chief stated he was guilty, but the police attorney as well! Mr. Joe Lotwick, the police attorney of the department stated, “they would have to be a bunch of fools” (referring to the board) not to believe the evidence! Let me tell you something, when an attorney that’s hired and dedicated to protect cops says such a thing, one needs to listen. Police Chief Jeff LeDuff should be applauded, applauded because he’s going against the status quo, as well as Mr. Lotwick!
My problem is with the two board members who voted to reinstate an obvious bad cop! What were they thinking? An audio or video tape of an actual crime in progress is called direct evidence, and believe me, nothing is more incriminating then this. Many common citizens are convicted daily and quite quickly on direct evidence. Matter of fact, when most people charged with a crime realize their crime is “caught” on tape, they usually don’t go to court, but enters into a plea bargain!
The police attorney further stated, the officer’s excuses were “absurd and laughable”. I’m telling you, this just doesn’t happen very often. And did I mention that the internal affairs report indicated that the officer was guilty as well! Internal affair officers are even more harder to convince than police chiefs and police attorneys!
In this instance, my hat goes off to Chief Jeff LeDuff and Police attorney Joe Lotwick, and a rare “well done” to the Internal Affairs Department. This is the way it’s suppose to happen… bad cop hurt citizen, citizen complains, investigation ensues, guilty cop is fired! I do have one slight problem though. I believe this cop should serve some jail time as well. I’m too hard you say? Well let me ask you this, what would have happen to you and I if we “broke someone’s jaw?