Attorney speaks about LSU’s Koy Moore, Alabama’s Traeshon Holden incident with Baton Rouge police officers
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU football player Koy Moore retained a group of civil rights attorneys after being “violated” by Baton Rouge police officers.
In a prepared statement, the attorneys claim Moore was with Alabama freshman wide receiver Traeshon Holden in Baton Rouge Sunday, Nov. 8.
That same day, officers were sent to a parking garage at 740 W Chimes St. just before 2 a.m. after being called by a security guard, Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) records say. The guard told dispatchers about 200 people gathered for a party with loud music, according to those records.
Once at the scene the officers were unable to find anything described by the security guard, the report says.
But that’s where the report ends. It makes no mention of the alleged encounter with Moore and Holden.
According to the attorneys, the events excluded from the report began with Moore and Holden being approached by the officers as they were attempting to get food.
Immediately the officers pointed guns at the athletes, the attorneys wrote.
From there the situation grew more hostile. The officers allegedly questioned the two about weapons, snatched Moore’s phone as he attempted to record the encounter, and attempted to physically search Moore by unzipping his pants at one point, the attorneys allege.
“Things went from zero to 100 real quick,” said attorney Ron Haley. “That’s not fair to these kids. But it’s also not fair to the next set of officers that may have an interaction with them because now they have a preconceived notion as to this thing may go bad and that may cause them to react in a more negative way the next time they have that interaction.”
Moore and one attorney were able to watch body camera footage captured of the incident.
BRPD refuses to release copies of that footage to the public.
There is a “critical incident” policy used by the department to release body camera footage of controversial and violent interactions in the past, but BRPD officials maintain this incident falls outside the scope of that policy.
“We should always err on the side of transparency. A transparent police department is a better police department,” said Haley in response. “This may not come to a critical incident because a gun wasn’t fired [and] somebody wasn’t killed or maimed. But, it could have went that way.”
The attorneys have filed a request for records, setting up a potential court fight where a judge would get to decide if the video should be released under Louisiana law.
They argue sharing the video would clear the damage done to the student-athletes' reputations.
“My client has a future. My client is hopeful to have a profession after college, whether that profession is in the NFL or whatever academic lane that he chooses to be in. And the fact that now he has been thrust into the spotlight for something not positive, that’s impactful to him from already being in the public eye to now being in the public eye for something else,” said Haley. “He did not ask for this.”
Attorney Ryan Thompson said it was unclear if Holden retained an attorney.
Attempts to contact Alabama’s athletics officials were not returned.
Contrary to Moore sharing a detailed post about the incident, Holden’s only mention of the interaction was shared via his Twitter account.
In a tweet, Holden says officers “didn’t care” as the two explained they were athletes and innocent.
Moore said that’s the only reason the encounter didn’t go further.
“That’s troubling that you had to put an additional status. That it’s not enough to be an American for you to be treated equally. That somehow you have to be special. You have to be special to get basic decency,” said Haley. “You have to be special to warrant a decent interaction, in this case, with these officers. That you have to have the status of a title, and at that point you get respect. It’s not enough that you’re a citizen.”
The officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave as an internal investigation continues.
“We appreciate Mr. Moore bringing this incident to our attention,” BRPD Chief Paul said in a statement. “As in every case, we will be collecting all available evidence and conducting interviews. Accountability and transparency are critical in building trust with the community. I pledge a thorough investigation into this complaint.”
East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome also released a statement concerning the incident.
“My office has been made aware of a situation concerning BRPD and an LSU student. Upon notification, I have been in contact with Chief Paul, who has assured me his department is thoroughly investigating this matter and he has been in touch with the student,” said Broome. “We take these allegations seriously and will await the findings of the investigation. We will get to the bottom of this situation and keep the lines of communication open with the community.”
Haley says the next steps are figuring out if proper protocol was followed by the officers, figuring out if policy changes could be made at BRPD, and understanding why officers responding to a party had their guns drawn.
“When we talk about escalation and de-escalation this could have been one of those tragedies," said Haley. “And I’m so happy that it’s not one of those tragedies.”
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