A state judge on Thursday rejected a lawyer’s request asking the court to order the release of body camera footage from the Baton Rouge Police Department in a violent arrest that required medical attention for the civilian involved .

Videos of bystanders of the October 24 arrest outside an apartment complex off North Sherwood Forest Drive shows two Baton Rouge police officers, for minutes, above Steven Young, sometimes throwing punches – but police officials said the police actions were justified. Young, who was later arrested, needed medical attention before he could be taken to the parish prison.

Young’s attorney, Ronald Haley Jr., filed a request last month to have body and onboard camera footage of the incident, as well as police reports, released under the Human Rights Act. public archives. He wanted to review the footage before drawing any conclusions about the officer’s actions, which sparked criticism and concern from passers-by.

State District Judge William Morvant dismissed the request on Thursday, citing the state’s Public Archives Act which gives agencies discretion not to disclose investigative records if they relate to an ongoing criminal investigation. An attorney for the Parish City Government said the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are considering prosecuting Young. However, no formal charges were filed by either agency.

The lawyer for a man injured in a violent arrest in Baton Rouge is demanding the release of the police department’s footage of the encounter.

Christopher Murell, another attorney representing Young, said in an interview after the hearing that although Morvant ruled according to state law, it was more a matter of transparency on the part of the police department. .

“We have one of the most restrictive public recording laws in the country in terms of the ability to obtain body cameras,” said Murell. “They are right, they don’t have to give us body cameras if they don’t want to; however, nothing in this statute prevents them from sharing it.”

Haley said if the video showed the officers were justified, it would be in the department’s best interests to share the video with the public, but the department fought the release at all times.

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“If this clearly exonerates the police, why not show it?” Haley asked. “It seems the Baton Rouge Police Department wants transparency when it’s practical.”

The department announced a new critical incidents policy in August that allows for faster dissemination of these body and dash camera images before a criminal case is processed, at the discretion of the police chief. However, Baton Rouge deputy chief Jonny Dunnam said Young’s case does not fall. under the new policy because Young was not admitted to a hospital. Dunnam admitted that Young needed medical attention before the parish prison booked it.

Lawyers for the police department also denied a public record request from The Advocate in November asking for the body and dash camera footage of the incident.

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Officers first approached Young, 42, because they saw him with a marijuana cigarette, according to his arrest report. When officers approached, Young attempted to cover up the drugs, the report said, then attempted to run away. Officers attempted to restrain Young, who fell, but then got up and tried to run away again, according to the report. Officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to shock Young with a stun gun.

“The accused then physically fought with police for several minutes while punching, biting and kicking,” the report said. “Many verbal commands were issued and ignored.”

After the violent encounter, officers found a loaded gun in Young’s pants; he cannot legally own a gun because he is a convicted felon. Young was later convicted after the encounter with the police – a struggle that lasted over four minutes – for possession of marijuana, illegal carrying of a firearm, illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and resistance. to a policeman with force.

Young in a previous interview with The Advocate disputed many details of the report. He said he never tried to run away, but was attacked by police, then hit with a stun gun and pepper spray, choked and beaten. Young insisted he did not resist the arrest and said police continued to beat him even after handcuffing him.

Dunnam previously explained that because Young was only handcuffed in the front – not in the back, which is the safest way – officers had to protect themselves as Young could still move his arms, attacking officers. .

Haley said he was also troubled because federal prosecutors have now become involved in the case.

“The public revelation that the United States Attorney’s Office is examining Steven Young worries us all,” Haley said. “From our experience as a lawyer, he doesn’t seem to be the type of offender who would get the attention of the US attorney’s office.”

Young was previously prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in 2005, convicted of a criminal in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 42 months in federal prison. Haley noted that the incident, as of 2003, was over a decade ago. He said his client’s original crime, which predated 2003, was from a drug conviction in Livingston Parish.

Haley also said he was concerned about how the court system might retaliate against Young.

“The timing of their involvement in this case seems to coincide when he spoke about police brutality,” Haley said. “We hope it doesn’t, but it appears to be.”

U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin declined to comment on the case or respond to Haley.

“Justice Department policy does not allow us to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation,” Fremin wrote in an email.

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