3 Police Officers Arrested Amid Investigation Into 'Torture Warehouse'

Baton Rouge police officers question Jeremy Lee

Photo: U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana

Three police officers from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were arrested in connection with an investigation of an illegal black site allegedly used to torture people who had been detained.

Baton Rouge Deputy Chief Troy Lawrence Sr., Sgt. Jesse Barcelona, and Officer Todd Thomas were charged with malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, and theft. Lawrence Sr. and Thomas were also charged with simple assault.

An investigation into the "torture warehouse" was launched after several lawsuits claimed that officers with the Street Crimes Unit were taking suspects to an unmarked warehouse dubbed the Brave Cave. Brave was an acronym for Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination.

According to the lawsuits, people taken to the warehouse were "held incommunicado, denied counsel, and beaten." One of the lawsuits, filed last week, alleges that Ternell Brown, a grandmother, was pulled over by officers while she was in the car with her husband.

During the stop, officers discovered that Brown had two different types of prescription pills in the same container. She was taken into custody and brought to the Brave Cave. Inside, officers conducted an invasive cavity search to see if she was hiding any illegal drugs.

After two hours, she was released without charges.

The lawsuit alleges that around 1,000 people have been detained at the black site.

Another lawsuit, filed last month by 21-year-old Jeremy Lee, claims he was arrested for resisting arrest in January. After being stripped down to his underwear in public, officers took him to the black site, where he was brutally beaten. He suffered a broken rib and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

The FBI has also launched an investigation into the black site and the tactics used by officers.

Officials said that the warehouse has since been shut down, and the Street Crimes Unit has been disbanded.

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