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After Katrina, New Orleans Police
Shot Frequently and Asked Few Questions

In Baton Rouge, More Allegations of Police Misconduct After Hurricane Katrina

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

More than 200 people line up at the Baton Rouge Department of Social Services to register for emergency aid after Hurricane Katrina on Sept. 3, 2005. Baton Rouge became the most populated city in the state after taking on evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday, the Baton Rouge Advocate published a damning exposé detailing allegations of misconduct by Baton Rouge police officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

After a four-year legal battle, the paper finally got a cache of police department documents describing a pattern of racist and abusive behavior by Baton Rouge officers in the days after the storm ravaged the Gulf coast. The cops are accused of using demeaning language; routinely harassing African Americans; physically abusing citizens; and seeking to "make life rough for New Orleans evacuees so they would leave town," according to the Advocate, which has posted the documents online.

Here's the twist: The accusations were made by other cops, 55 state troopers from New Mexico and Michigan who had been sent to Baton Rouge to assist with post-storm policing. The out-of-state cops were yanked out of Baton Rouge after only two days because of their concerns about misconduct.

The visiting officers said Baton Rouge cops referred to African Americans as "heathens" and "animals" that "needed to be beaten down."

In response to the newspaper's questions, Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff said some of the allegations against his officers were "maybe blown out of proportion." He also said his department had investigated the incidents and dealt with any policy violations uncovered.

Five years after the hurricane, controversy about police tactics in the aftermath of the disaster continues to swirl. In recent weeks, two former New Orleans cops have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to high-profile shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Federal agents are investigating four other police shooting incidents from the time period.

We're covering these violent encounters in an ongoing series with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS "Frontline."

All Entries

The Case Files

Case One

Religious Street

There is no police report describing what happened in this photo.

Case Two

Matt McDonald

Why didn’t police tell his family he was killed by an officer?

Case Three

Danny Brumfield

How does a man waving down a police car die from a shotgun blast to his back?

Case Four

Keenon McCann

The gun police said he had was never found.

Case Five

Henry Glover

His skull and ashes were found in the back of an incinerated Chevy.

Case Six

Danziger Bridge

Officers responding to an emergency call opened fire on civilians, injuring four and killing two.

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Laura Maggi

The Times-Picayune