Parish: East Baton Rouge
Police Department: East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office
I grew up in New Orleans and moved to St. Francisville, Louisiana in high school. I like working with wood, stonework, and out in the yard—I like projects. I am an entrepreneur and opened a business two months before the heavy flooding in Louisiana that kept me busy and was doing really well.
On the day of the incident, I was having a great day. I was finishing up a project fixing some flooring and feeling accomplished. I found a man on Facebook Marketplace selling a Ryobi saw for a great price, which I decided to buy to help grow my business. We met in the parking lot of the Tractor Supply in Zachary, LA. I paid for the saw and started heading home.
Shortly after I left the parking lot, I realized I had been followed by two officers. This was right as people are getting off from work, so when they pulled me over, it backed up traffic—and moreover, everyone could see what they were doing. I was embarrassed. They pulled me out of the car and restrained me, putting the cuffs tight on my wrist bones, and searched my car and my person. They went through my trunk, started going through my phone, and even pulled my pants down in full view of traffic. One of the officers made a show of pulling money out of my pockets and asking where I got it from. The officers also said they discovered a blunt in my trunk, which I know was not there when they opened it—and they never showed me where it was. While all of this was going on, they had their guns pointed at me, and even made comments referencing the movie Training Day. They ended up citing me for speeding, crossing the line, and proof of insurance. They also cited me for possession of marijuana, which I know I did not have. It was surreal, like something out of a movie. I could not believe it.
A few days earlier, I had been stopped by a police officer in front of the Zachary Police Station. He had made a big deal about all the money I had on me—which I had from my handyman business—but he let me go. It stuck out to me that, when this incident occurred, another officer made that same remark. It felt like it was a conspiracy.
The officers’ story was that it was a routine traffic stop, but those officers had been following me for a while before the interaction. I attempted to contact attorneys in my area but was let down by one after another. I was given poor legal advice that frustrated my proceedings, so much so that it seemed like the attorneys I consulted were working with the police, and even the judge. When I did finally find an attorney, who seemed interested in helping me, he died in the middle of assisting me. I was eventually able to recover 35% of the money they had confiscated, but my frustration wore me down to the point that I gave up hope.
As a result of this experience, I can tell I have gotten paranoid. It seems that no one—not the police, not the judge, not the attorneys—is interested in justice, only in money. It makes me anxious, which people who know me say they can see. My experience made me feel that no one really cares or wants to hear about these things that are happening every day. It is not right, and police officers should not be allowed to treat people like this—police should not be able to just violate civil liberties.