Fourth BRPD officer arrested, accused of malfeasance in office

BATON ROUGE — The fourth Baton Rouge Police officer turned himself Oct. 2 after three other BRPD officers turned themselves in last week in connection to a case involving a missing body camera.

EBRSO’s jail records show Doug Chutz was booked Oct. 2 for malfeasance in office. It comes after Chutz was out of town last week when warrants were signed for all four officers’ arrests.

The warrants were signed Wednesday, Sept. 27th, by the on-duty judge at the 19th Judicial District Court.

The warrants have to do with a body camera that was illegally destroyed after having captured possible illegal activity three years ago.

Sources say the officer who came forward about the allegations that unfolded three years ago gave up the information to top administration in exchange for a transfer within BRPD to a specialized unit. That officer also requested whistleblower status despite being the one who allegedly destroyed the body camera illegally.

The incident occurred on Sept. 28, 2020, in a bathroom at the Baton Rouge Police First District precinct on Plank Road.

At a news conference Friday BRPD Chief Murphy Paul detailed the incident. He said two officers used department-issued Tasers on a man under arrest to make him comply with a strip search. A street crimes officer was observed hitting the victim, causing a package of allegedly synthetic marijuana to fall from the man’s anal area.

When the taser was used it activated a body camera, which recorded the incident. Paul said the officers weren’t aware the body camera was on until after the incident.

The supervisor directed an officer to get rid of the body camera footage so the evidence couldn’t be downloaded into the department’s docking station.

In total, five BRPD officers are center of the alleged incident three years ago, including Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr. He was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, Sept. 27. He’s charged with malfeasance in office, principal to simple battery, principle to obstruction of justice and principle to theft. He turned himself in after the court hearing today.

The three other officers include Todd Thomas, Jesse Barcelona and Doug Chutz. All three are also charged with malfeasance in office. Todd Thomas and Jesse Barcelona, who were assigned to the street crimes division, also turned themselves in today. Doug Chutz is out of town and will turn himself in when he returns.

Barcelona is charged with malfeasance in office, principal to obstruction of justice and principal to theft. Thomas is charged with malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, simple battery and theft.

The fifth officer is currently being protected under whistleblower status.

Bonds for Lawrence, Barcelona and Thomas were set at $30,000 with Chutz’ bond at $15,000.

“Accountability is not just the word. It’s the fundamental principle of how our profession operates,” Paul said Friday. “When misconduct occurs, we will acknowledge it, and we will confront it. To rectify this process starts with holding those responsible accountable, regardless of their rank or tenure, and it’s exactly what we’re doing. No one is above the law, and that includes members of my department and my staff.”

Paul said there are nine internal affairs investigations being conducted.

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