BRPD’s “whistle blower” now on administrative leave and target of a grand jury investigation

BATON ROUGE — A Baton Rouge Police Officer has been placed on administrative leave and is now the target of a grand jury.

Officer Martele Jackson’s lawyer confirmed he was put on leave as of Friday, April 26th.

“Our hope is that Mr. Jackson’s placement on administrative leave is only a formality due to the grand jury inquiry and after the presentation of the evidence to the grand jury that its members will reach the same conclusion that we know to be true. That being that Mr. Jackson did not break the law and never violated the civil liberties of any citizen,” said Jackson’s lawyer Ron Haley.

Background

October 2023, former Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul announced that four of his officers had been arrested as part of a conspiracy to hide evidence of wrongdoing. The four officers were deputy chief Troy Lawrence, Sr., sergeant Jesse Barcelona, corporals Doug Chustz and Todd Thomas.

The arrests shook the foundation of the department and seemed to make the allegations of multiple abuses in the now infamous “Brave Cave” more credible.

Though these four arrests were not directly related to “Brave Cave” incidents, they nevertheless involved members of the now defunct BRPD Street Crimes Team. When the announcement was made, Chief Paul credited an officer inside of the department who he referred to as a “whistle blower.” The officer was later identified as Martele Jackson.

Jackson allegedly received a transfer to a specialized division within BRPD in exchange for his role in the investigation.

While Chief Paul credited officer Jackson for being the “whistle blower,” UWK has learned that Jackson is now the target of a grand jury investigation. And while he was not arrested with the others last year, officer Jackson could still find himself implicated.

The Incident

The four officers arrested last October were accused of multiple crimes, related to an arrest of several individuals that occurred on Sept. 28, 2020.

According to the arrest warrants, a suspect who had been arrested by BRPD was later allegedly punched by corporal Todd Thomas for refusing to cooperate with a strip search. During that fight, the warrants claim that Jackson’s body camera was activated and captured the alleged beating.

Jackson claimed that his body camera was taken from him by Thomas and disposed of to keep the video hidden. The other officers, including deputy chief Troy Lawrence, were accused of either participating in the alleged coverup or facilitating a “cover story” to explain the missing body camera.

Even though the incident caught on camera was in 2020, it wasn’t discovered until August 2023 when Chief Paul reported that Jackson “came forward” with the information. That is what led to the arrest of the four officers. But did Jackson actually “come forward?”

Questions about Jackson’s alleged involvement

While Jackson is referred to as a “whistle blower,” the warrants appear to show that Jackson did not willingly come forward with the information. In fact, Jackson was allegedly asked about the incident by Chief Paul, after the top cop received a “tip” from an unknown person outside of the department who Jackson allegedly told. Sources tell UWK that “tip” came from Chief Paul’s friend and fraternity brother, who works in the Baton Rouge media, three years after the incident.

There are questions now if Jackson may have participated in any “cover up” of the body camera.

According to arrest warrants, not only did Jackson not try to stop the alleged
theft of his camera, but he also sent several emails to people within BRPD asking for help in finding the very camera that he claimed was taken from the charging station, not stolen by a fellow officer.

Instead of investigating Jackson’s alleged role with the incident, he was labeled a “whistleblower” and protected.

What is a whistle blower?

Louisiana law recognizes several different scenarios in which a person can be
protected from retaliation after reporting violations of the law or policies.

In all of the scenarios, the “whistle blower” must come forward with the information
without being prompted by anyone. Also, the “whistle blower” cannot be a part of
the wrongdoing himself or herself, otherwise there is no protection.

UWK has spoken to several people with knowledge of whistle blower laws and
everyone appears to agree: If Chief Paul had to ask Jackson to come forward, that makes him ineligible to seek any protection of the whistle blower laws.

What happens if Jackson is indicted?

An indictment of officer Jackson would not only complicate any case(s) against the four officers already arrested, but also questions the integrity of the entire investigation.

The grand jury is ongoing.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play for any new developments.

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