The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Sep. 2—Baton Rouge police arrested two of the department’s own officers Thursday, alleging that one cop leaked details from narcotics investigations to drug dealers in exchange for cash and that another handcuffed a woman, forced her to an apartment and sexually assaulted her, senior police officials said.
Officers Richmond Barrow and Wade Hill were booked Thursday in what the officials described as unrelated cases — the latest instance in the past several years of city police officers being accused of crimes, and on some of the most severe allegations.
“[This] should upset you,” Chief of Police Murphy Paul said of the allegations. “This erodes the faith of our community, and that’s why we must take corrective action and restore that trust. That’s what we have done.”
Barrow faces a count each of obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office, accused of sharing information about a narcotics probe with people involved in drug trafficking in exchange for cash, officials said. Hill, meanwhile, faces charges of kidnapping, obscenity, malfeasance in office and misdemeanor sexual battery in the assault of a young woman at his apartment, said Deputy Chief Myron Daniels.
Barrow has resigned from the department, Daniels said. He said Hill is on administrative leave pending a disciplinary hearing. It was not immediately clear Thursday whether either of the two officers had hired attorneys.
A third officer, Billy Mattingly, has also been fired, officials said, in the wake of an internal affairs probe into allegations that he swapped price tags on goods at a Walmart in Denham Springs. Mattingly is accused of entering the store and swapping stickers on products so he could buy them more cheaply than were advertised, Daniels said at the press conference.
Mattingly is not accused of any felonies.
The senior BRPD officials described in detail the allegations against Hill and Barrow at Thursday’s press conference. Hill, they said, was working an extra duty shift in July when he responded to a trespassing complaint at a local apartment complex. When he arrived, he approached the woman at the request of the apartment complex manager, Daniels said.
Hill then handcuffed her, put her in his police cruiser and drove to his own residence, Daniels said. There, he’s accused of transferring her from his police cruiser to a personal vehicle. He then drove to several locations, Daniels said, before stopping at a different apartment that belonged to Hill.
While driving, Daniels said, Hill touched the woman inappropriately. He later performed other lewd acts in front of her while inside the apartment, Daniels said.
Barrow, meanwhile, is accused of sharing body-worn camera footage with “non-law enforcement personnel”; sharing investigative and surveillance reports with subjects arrested for alleged felonies; photographing reports from a sensitive police database and sharing it with friends in a text group-chat.
In perhaps the most severe allegation against him, the four-year BRPD veteran is accused of offering to disclose to a suspect under investigation for distributing drugs the identity of a confidential informant in exchange for money.
The arrests are fruits of efforts to root out wrongdoing by a select few officers in a department by and large populated by honest and hardworking officers, police brass said.
“Public trust is something that is paramount to our success as a police department as well as a city,” Daniels said. “The actions taken today are not easy. But they were necessary.”
Officials at the press conference also outlined allegations against a fourth former officer: former Sgt. John Dauthier, who until his retirement in June was one of the department’s most vocal internal critics of Paul’s administration. Dauthier retired shortly after his appointment to the Baton Rouge Municipal Civil Service Board, which hears officer and firefighter discipline appeals and has frequently pitted Paul against rank-and-file officers.
Dauthier’s retirement came amid an administrative BRPD probe into unspecified misconduct that arose shortly after his appointment to the civil service board. On Thursday, officials revealed that the probe stemmed from accusations that Dauthier used department databases to research the civil service board’s chairman, Brandon Williams, whom the city police union and some officials have alleged is unfit to serve on the board.
The department also opened a separate criminal probe into Dauthier, Daniels said at Thursday’s press conference, over a different allegation: That he asked another officer to contact him if the officer ever saw Paul visiting a certain “social establishment.”
That probe, however, yielded no arrest. And while Daniels says the department has kept open the internal affairs probe, it’s unclear what effect that probe could yield since Dauthier has retired.
“Regardless of a person’s status with the Baton Rouge Police Department, it is our policy that we will conclude our internal investigations,” Daniels said. “There are a lot more things that come from it other than possible discipline for a particular subject. It’s a great tool for us to analyze our own practices.
Dauthier said in an emailed statement Thursday that he watched the press conference in “astounded disbelief at the inaccurate statements made by the Department’s administration related to the facts of my case.”
(c)2022 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
Visit The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. at www.theadvocate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.