BATON ROUGE – A WBRZ reporter is filing suit against the Baton Rouge Police Department over an allegedly unlawful arrest and detention.
Brett Buffington filed a suit on March 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Court of Louisiana against the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) and Officer Clifton Crouch, alleging violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and defamation.
Buffington alleges that in the early morning of May 29, 2015, he was driving with Trey Schmaltz, the executive producer of WBRZ, towards Schmaltz’s house when they noticed a large police presence on the intersection of Oleander and Eugene streets. They allegedly parked their vehicle and headed towards the scene, asserting that the area was not marked by any barricade or visible tape signifying a crime scene. They were allegedly approached by defendant Crouch, who requested they move away from the scene. Plaintiff did so and then allegedly used his iPhone to snap photos of the area, which allegedly lead Schmaltz and plaintiff being handcuffed and placed into the back seat of a police cruiser.
The suit states Crouch started preparing a misdemeanor summons to both plaintiff and Schmaltz for interfering with a law enforcement investigation, then allegedly removed the handcuffs from plaintiff and Schmaltz and informed them they were free to go. As Crouch was driving off, plaintiff allegedly made a remark to Crouch, who then turned around and threatened to use a stun gun on the plaintiff. Crouch then allegedly arrested plaintiff and took him to a BRPD substation where plaintiff was taken to a holding cell, booked for public intimidation and retaliation, fingerprinted, photographed and allegedly processed.
The plaintiff alleges that he was forced to strip naked, redressed in an orange jumpsuit, experienced harassment and intimidation and was forced to watch a prison rape video. After 10 hours, plaintiff was allegedly released on bail and, upon reviewing the case, the district attorney’s office allegedly decided not to prosecute him.
The plaintiff is now seeking compensatory and punitive damages along with interest, attorney fees and all the costs of the suit. He is requesting a trial by jury and is represented by Amy E. Newsom and Drew D. Lyons from Newsom Law Firm LLC and Franz Borghardt, both in Baton Rouge.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana Case number 3:16-cv-00156-JJB-RLB