After family beaten, BR police apologize for handling of case
Jay Vise Reporting
The Chief of the Baton Rouge Police Department today issued an apology for the way his officers handled a reported beating of a white family by three black suspects.
The family was allegedly attacked after stopping to get gas and were told they "were in the wrong neighborhood." Following the beating of the the man, wife, and daughter, responding officers arrested one suspect but issued misdemeanor summonses to two other suspects.
Following days of criticism for not arresting all three suspects, Police Chief Carl Dabadie said in a statement, "I do regret that two of the suspects were issued misdemeanor summonses at the scene instead of being booked. That was a mistake and an error of judgment. We have counseled the officers involved and I have re-emphasized to all my commanders that I expect offenders who commit misdemeanor crimes of violence will be booked into the prison, not summonsed."
Dabadie went on to say that he is seeking input from the FBI on a possible federal hate crimes charge.
According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, the incident began when the someone at the gas station started making fun of the man pumping gas for wearing a pink shirt. According to the police report, "the defendant told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and he was not going to make it out." The victim told police that's when the man punched him and knocked him to the ground.
When the wife ran to her husband's aid, she says was punched by a woman. The couple's daughter was also reportedly punched in the incident.
Charged in the case are 41-year old Donald Ray Dickerson, 24-year-old Devin Bessye, and 22-year-old Ashley Simmons.
Dickerson was booked on the night of the incident on a felony charge of battery. The Advocate reports Dickerson was recently released from federal prison.
The following is the full statement from interim Chief Carl Dabadie:
Over the past several days our department has been the target of some criticism and frustration by people who questioned our handling of a brutal attack on a family in our city last weekend. I take those concerns seriously, and wanted to be certain that the decisions made by our officers and investigators in this case were the correct ones. The detectives have worked diligently and tirelessly at reviewing this case in an attempt to make sure it's handled without prejudice.
So at my direction our detectives have extensively re-interviewed the victims and several witnesses and reviewed all available evidence. We have worked closely with the District Attorney's Office so that the prosecutors who will ultimately have to take these cases to court had the opportunity to evaluate all of the evidence as well, and offer us their guidance.
We also reached out to our federal partners at the FBI to see if federal hate crime charges might be applicable in this case. FBI agents have accompanied our detectives and actively participated in interviews of the victims and witnesses. I will leave it to them to decide when or whether to publicly release further information on their part of the investigation.
I do regret that two of the suspects were issued misdemeanor summonses at the scene instead of being booked. That was a mistake and an error of judgment. We have counseled the officers involved and I have re-emphasized to all my commanders that I expect offenders who commit misdemeanor crimes of violence will be booked into the prison, not summonsed.
Again, this was a brutal attack on an innocent family and I want to commend our officers who quickly responded to the scene and were able to identify, locate and arrest the suspects. I also want to thank the many witnesses that night who put themselves at risk by physically attempting to intervene, and who have since cooperated fully by telling us what they saw.
Our active investigation has concluded for now, although if any new evidence or information comes to light we will of course investigate further and the charges could still be amended later if there is justification to do so. In the meantime we will forward all our reports to the District Attorney's Office and work closely with them to make sure the suspects are prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law. We will make no further public statements regarding the details of this case or the evidence until it goes to court."