Independence police officer booked on hate crime, allegedly stole from non-English speakers during traffic stops _lowres

Laquinton Banks

An Independence police officer has been arrested on allegations of felony theft, malfeasance in office and committing a hate crime by stealing from non-English-speaking drivers while on duty, State Police announced Tuesday.

Laquinton Banks, 25, had worked for the department for five months and is accused of stealing about $1,600 from Hispanic men during four separate traffic stops, according to a news release.

Banks has been placed on leave without pay and will be fired, said Police Chief Frank Edwards.

The investigation began Dec. 23 when the friend of a victim lodged a complaint, according to state and city police. The chief said the outstanding complaints have all been investigated, but more victims may come forward. It was not immediately clear when the crimes were committed.

“I wish that these victims had come forward earlier and directly to us,” Edwards said. “I don’t want to say we welcome complaints, but we welcome complaints.”

Banks is being held at the Tangipahoa Parish Jail. As of Tuesday evening, his bail had not been set.