The city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earlier this month reached a $35,000 settlement with a man police strip searched along with his 16-year-old brother before entering their mother’s home with guns drawn and without a warrant.
Clarence Green spent five months in prison after he was pulled over without explanation on New Year’s Day 2020, according to a complaint he and his mother filed against the city, East Baton Rouge Parish, the Baton Rouge Police Department, and six officers one year later.
Body camera video shared with NBC News by Green’s lawyer showed Green standing outside of a car with his shirt open and his pants down. The officer who was searching him pulled the elastic front strap of Green’s underwear forward and looked inside, the video showed.
“You can’t do that bro,” Green protested.
“I can,” the officer said.
Video showed officers also strip searched Green’s 16-year-old brother, who has not been identified.
With Green and his brother handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, officers then drove to Green’s mother’s home and, with guns drawn, went upstairs where she was with her 10-year-old grandson and threatened her with arrest if she did not allow them to search her apartment, according to the complaint. The officers did not have a warrant to search the apartment.
The body camera video showed that once the mother was outside with her sons, an officer told her he was going to take a swab of her 16-year-old son’s cheek with a q-tip.
The 16-year-old answered “no,” to which an officer responded “Shut your mouth or I’m going to put you in the car and put you in detention and your mom won’t have a choice.”
Green, still in the back of the police car, called out for his mother to contact a lawyer, according to the video.
An officer responded: “Hey if you don’t shut the f— up, Imma come in and Imma f— you up”
“I’m talking to my mama man. I’m talking to my mama,” Green said.
“No, you hollering. You think I’m playing with you. I will f— you up,” the officer threatened.
Based on evidence from the illegal stop and search, Green was arrested in July 2020 on a gun charge, according to the complaint.
But five months later, a judge ordered Green be released, writing, “the state agents in this case demonstrated a serious and wanton disregard for Defendant’s constitutional rights, first by initiating a traffic stop on the thinnest of pretext, and then by haphazardly invading Defendant’s home (weapons drawn) to conduct an unjustified, warrantless search,” the complaint said.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson noted that during a hearing, one of the officers “gave multiple conflicting accounts when describing the circumstances leading up to Defendant’s traffic stop, and failed to offer a satisfactory explanation for why the police reports in this investigation were revised nearly one dozen times in the months following Defendant’s arrest.”
“The officer’s testimony was troubling at best,” Jackson wrote.
But only one officer involved was disciplined, according to the lawyer for the Green family, Thomas Frampton.
He called the body camera video “horrifying” and noted the $35,000 settlement was funded by taxpayer dollars. He wants the officers involved to not only face discipline within the department but would also like for criminal charges to be filed against them.
“These aren’t bad apples; there are some of the best officers on the force. It’s a miracle someone didn’t get killed … this time,” Frampton said.
Attorneys for the city, police department and officers did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
A spokesperson for Baton Rouge police said the department would be holding a press conference Friday, but could not provide a time or place.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said Wednesday in a statement that the body camera footage was “disturbing.” She said Baton Rouge Police Department Chief Murphy Paul told her that an investigation into the Jan. 1, 2020, incident was launched last year when the complaint was filed. The investigation is in the “administrative process,” she said.
“While the involved individuals have received a civil remedy in this manner, the officers involved must be held accountable,” Broome said.