One of the two college football players who say they were stopped, harassed, and held at gunpoint by Baton Rouge Police last weekend has retained a group of civil rights attorneys who are calling for body camera footage to be released.
Attorneys say their client, Louisiana State University football freshman wide receiver Koy Moore and University of Alabama freshman receiver Traeshon Holden were out getting food together when the incident occurred. Moore and Holden are longtime friends whose teams were off last weekend and had been scheduled to play on Nov. 14 in Baton Rouge before the game was postponed due to positive coronavirus tests on the Louisiana State side.
On Sunday Nov. 8 at around 2 a.m., Baton Rouge police responded to a report from a security guard that 200 people had gathered and were playing loud music on an apartment building rooftop. When officers arrived, they couldn’t find any evidence of what the guard described.
The official police report ends there, and makes no mention of the encounter between police, Moore, and Holden.
Attorneys say Moore and Holden were leaving Moore’s apartment and were trying to get food when officers approached them, and immediately pointed their weapons at them. The officers allegedly searched Moore and tried to unzip his pants in the process while questioning the students about weapons and drugs.
When Moore tried to record the encounter, an officer snatched his phone away.
Moore and one of his attorneys were able to watch body camera footage of the incident, but it has not yet been released to the public.
Attorney Ryan Thompson, who viewed the footage, gave the following description of events:
“Both Koy and Traeshon are subsequently searched at gunpoint. They’re asked ‘where are the guns, where are the drugs?’ There are no guns and no drugs. They then proceed to tell them that there are no guns, no drugs, ‘What did I do, what did I do?’ They [the officers] then say, ‘be calm.’ They [Koy and Traeshon] then, at some point tell them, after being detained, after being stopped, ‘We’re LSU football players, we’re athletes.’ At that point their detention stops and the response from that is ‘OK,’ and ‘Good job.’”
The Baton Rouge Police Department releases footage publicly when a “critical incident” that is violent or controversial occurs.
In this case, the department claims the incident doesn’t fit the criteria of a “critical incident.”
Ron Haley, one of Moore’s attorneys, disagrees.
“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.”
Ultimately, a judge may decide whether the footage should be released.
It’s not clear if Holden has also retained an attorney, but he spoke about the incident in a tweet, saying it seemed the officers “didn’t care” that he and Moore were students and athletes.
Three officers have been placed on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation. The police union released a statement on Friday, saying the video footage would “vindicate” the officers involved.
“The video has been viewed by multiple attorneys including our own. We believe it will vindicate the officers who are currently on leave,” the statement said.
Haley said next steps include determining whether officers acted within protocol and identifying possible policy changes.