After an investigation by Unfiltered with Kiran into the case of BRPD Officer Donald Steele, the case went before an East Baton Rouge Parish Grand Jury today. Hours later, BRPD fired him, over a year after he was arrested and accumulated paid leave plus supplemental pay.
EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore explained back in July 2022 that the “matter was still under review.”
After the UWK investigation, Hillar assigned Chief of Litigations & Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings to prosecute the case and present it to a grand jury.
That grand jury indicted Steele on second-degree kidnapping (felony) & malfeasance in office. That means a grand jury did find that there is enough evidence to move forward with charges and a possible trial.
Later the same afternoon, BRPD fired Steele.
“This is a good day for my client. Today is a day that not only resonates for my client and her family but should resonate with all victims of sexual assault. I think this also resonates with those who accuse officers of wrongdoing and often times, all you hear is their cries. Often times, those types of cases don’t yield these kind of results. Today, my client’s belief in herself and doing the right thing was just reinforced with the grand jury’s indictment and now with his termination showing an officer is not above the law,” said Ron Haley, who is representing the victim.
It was around 2 am on June 23, 2021, when a 19-yr-old was driving down Burbank Dr. and was pulled over by Baton Rouge Police Officer Donald Steele for a possible DWI.
August 25, 2021, nearly two months since the alleged incident, Steele was arrested & charged with two felonies: second-degree kidnapping & malfeasance in office. In addition to the felonies, Steele was also arrested for a misdemeanor sexual battery.
“We appreciate the district attorney’s office today for believing in our client,” Haley said. “For believing in this strong incredible young woman. It is a jarring thing to relive what happened over and over again but today is a great sign of things to come. This sends a message for women out there that you can speak up and people will believe you.”
“We were notified about the indictment from the media, which is unfortunate, as we sent a letter of representation to the DA’s Office in September of 2021. We weren’t even approached about the Grand Jury proceeding. That said, we will now move forward defending Donald against what we believe to be false allegations of misconduct. He maintains his innocence,” said Franz Bourghart, who is representing Steele.
Steele was placed on paid administrative leave after the alleged incident. At this point, he’s been on paid leave for over a year. The UWK investigation revealed Steele was receiving the additional $500 monthly supplemental pay that’s meant only for officers enforcing the laws.
Haley said Wednesday’s indictment validates his client and other women who have been in her position.
“From Day 1 from the moment we saw the social media post and we had a chance to sit down with her and her family, we believed her,” he said. “Today is validation for this young lady. Today is validation for all women who have been faced with a situation like this and decided to be silent because they were afraid they wouldn’t be heard or if they were heard, nobody would take action. Today action was taken.”
Moore said Wednesday that if Steele is convicted of the charges, he could face between five and 40 years in prison. He would have to serve a minimum of two years without probabtion
Moore said Steele could also face a misdemeanor sexual battery charge.