Police ‘sexually humiliated’ Baton Rouge woman in ‘torture warehouse,’ she says

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An embattled Louisiana police department has been hit with a second lawsuit alleging officers from a street crime unit dragged detainees to an unmarked warehouse dubbed the “Brave Cave,” where they were assaulted, stripped and subjected to body cavity searches.

The latest allegations against the Baton Rouge Police Department were detailed in a lawsuit filed Monday by Ternell Brown, a 47-year-old grandmother, who said she was taken to a “torture warehouse” after officers making a traffic stop found bottles of legal prescription medication in her car.

The alleged
The alleged “Brave Cave,” an unmarked warehouse reportedly used by the Baton Rouge Police Department.Courtesy Ryan Thompson

“She was forced to show officers that she was not hiding contraband in her vagina or rectum,” the Baton Rouge woman’s complaint stated. “After more than two hours, they let her go without charge.”Brown’s lawsuit, which also named the city and the parish of Baton Rouge and several officers as defendants, was filed a month after another resident, Jeremy Lee, filed a lawsuit alleging that he was taken in January to the “Brave Cave” and beaten by the officers.

The street crime unit called BRAVE, short for Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination, was disbanded after Lee filed his lawsuit, which included a body camera image of the 22-year-old perched on a chair in what appears to be a mostly empty warehouse.

Baton Rouge police officers 
question Jeremy Lee at the warehouse they reportedly call the
Baton Rouge police officers question Jeremy Lee at the warehouse they reportedly call the “Brave Cave.”U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana

“It’s essentially an unmarked interrogation warehouse where Baton Rouge citizens have been getting taken for years, strip-searched and sometimes beaten,” Thomas Frampton, an attorney for Lee and Brown, said Thursday.

The officers named in the lawsuits “are well known for their brutality in the Baton Rouge community,” Frampton said.

Lee was “left so badly beaten that the local jail refused to admit him until he was treated by a nearby hospital,” his complaint states. “There he was treated for broken bones and other injuries.”

The officer who arrested Lee, Troy Lawrence Jr., “has an extensive record of injuring members of the public, disregarding their constitutional rights, and escalating routine interactions into hostile and even violent ones,” the complaint states.

Lawrence, who is the son of Baton Rouge’s deputy police chief Troy Lawrence Sr., is also one of the officers named in Brown’s complaint, the court records state. He resigned from the force in August, according to Lee’s complaint.

Lawrence could not be reached for comment. His father, in a brief telephone interview, said his son does not yet have a lawyer.

“I’m not going to put him in touch with you right now, sorry to say,” Lawrence Sr. said.

But Frampton said the case is not about “individual rogue officers.”

“This is about a level of institutional rot, and institutional responsibility for police misconduct that goes to the chief and the deputy chief and has been long-standing for years,” he said.

He said he had heard from other alleged “Brave Cave” victims, who also plan to file lawsuits.

“There will be more,” Frampton said.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul Jr. said Thursday that he has requested a federal investigation and that his department is cooperating with the FBI. He referred a request for comment about the Brown lawsuit to the city, which has not responded.

Paul confirmed last month in a news conference that an internal investigation was underway and that the “Brave Cave” was a narcotics processing facility owned by the Baton Rough Parish. He said he was unaware it was being used to search detainees until Lee filed his lawsuit.

“We made a mistake on this one,” Paul told The Washington Post. “I’ve got to own that.”

Asked about a possible investigation, Lesley Hill, a spokesperson for the FBI office in New Orleans, said “we are aware of the allegations.”

“Per the DOJ (Department of Justice) guidelines, the FBI does not confirm or deny any investigations,” Hill said.

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