State Sen. Troy Brown, accused of punching his longtime girlfriend in the face Saturday night in a New Orleans hotel hours after the Bayou Classic football game, said Monday he can’t remember major details of the alleged incident and is seeking medical help.
Brown, D-Geismar, punched the girlfriend while she and others were waiting for an elevator at the Hyatt Regency hotel, near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, after she had gotten in an argument with Brown in his room and left with her friends, a New Orleans police report says.
Brown, 44, who as a legislator proposed the creation of a domestic violence commission in 2014, was arrested Saturday night and booked early Sunday into Orleans Parish Prison on misdemeanor domestic abuse battery, according to a jail booking record.
The victim, a 40-year-old woman from Labadieville, told police she was Brown’s “side friend” and had been in a romantic relationship with him for more than 10 years, the police report says, which also notes Brown is married to another woman.
State Sen. Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans, entered a not guilty plea on Brown’s behalf at New Orleans’ Municipal Court. Before the hearing, Murray, who is Brown’s attorney, said Brown is “very remorseful about the situation.”
“What happened should not have happened,” Murray said.
In a statement, Brown apologizes to “my family, my friends and supporters, my constituents, and the alleged victim.”
Judge Desiree Charbonnet said Brown would have been required typically to appear in court for Monday’s hearing, but he previously had signed a domestic stay-away order when he posted a $3,000 bail Sunday morning.
Marsanne Golsby, Brown’s spokeswoman, said he visited a neurologist Monday. She said Brown does not remember details of the incident and is concerned the memory gap could be related to the long-term effects of a 1991 car crash, possibly a condition worsened in combination with social drinking of alcohol.
An NOPD report on the incident indicates Brown had been drinking alcohol that day, a fact Golsby said Brown has acknowledged.
“I am seeking medical help to determine if the injuries I suffered in a life-threatening automobile accident in 1991 affected my cognitive abilities in more serious ways than I was already aware,” Brown said in statement from Golsby.
Brown told WWL-TV in the earlier statement that he has suffered from periodic bouts of short-term memory loss since suffering brain damage in the car accident.
When Murray was asked Monday whether he thought Brown was a danger considering his issues with memory loss, Murray said, “I don’t think he’s been unstable, a danger to himself or to anyone else,” noting that he served with Brown in the state Legislature for the past four years.
Brown told WWL-TV on Sunday that he had gotten into a fight with a couple of people during a Bayou Classic after-party at the Hyatt.
In a second statement provided shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, Brown said he was socializing with a small group of friends Saturday when an altercation occurred between him and “two or three other individuals.”
Neither statement specifies who those friends were.
The Hyatt Regency is in a complex of buildings next to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the annual football grudge match between Southern and Grambling State universities was held Saturday evening. The big game draws tens of thousands of fans, alumni and others to the city.
Facebook posts show Brown attended a Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus jazz brunch in the hotel about noon Saturday, hours before the game and the incident.
Brown, who is an Assumption Parish native and Southern graduate, declined comment Monday morning by text message and referred calls to Golsby, a Baton Rouge public relations professional.
According to the police report, the victim told officers she and Brown began arguing inside Brown’s hotel room on the 14th floor and she left with her female friend and the friend’s daughter. Brown showed up at the elevator where the three were waiting, report says.
Brown began arguing with his girlfriend’s friend, the report says. When the girlfriend intervened in that argument, Brown became angry, leaned down and hit her “with a closed fist to the right eye,” the report says. The police report says the woman was sitting on the floor at the time she was hit.
Brown then walked off to an unknown part of the hotel, the report says.
Officers, who arrived about 9:40 p.m., about 40 minutes after the incident, reported the woman had minor swelling to the right side of her face.
Police later found Brown on the hotel’s ground floor and arrested him.
The victim reported to police that she and Brown have disagreements every few months that involve grabbing, but not punches.
“This is the worst incident in public,” she told police.
Phil Stelly, Orleans Parish sheriff’s spokesman, said Brown was released at 8:24 a.m. Sunday on $3,000 bail.
Brown was re-elected Oct. 24 to his River Parishes Senate District 2 seat, which covers parts of seven parishes and spans from Geismar south to Thibodaux and east to LaPlace.
Brown captured 67 percent of the vote. Challengers Eric Weil, no party, got 21 percent, and Democrat Chris Delpit garnered 12 percent.
Brown said in his statement he is cooperating with authorities, but Golsby added that Brown’s inability to remember details of the incident has hindered his ability to respond to it. She said Murray, his attorney, is interviewing witnesses to find out what happened.
“It’s terrible, not knowing” what happened, Golsby said.
In 2014, Brown was not able to win passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 118 to create the Louisiana Domestic Violence Prevention Commission. The new state board would have looked for gaps in the state’s prevention and intervention services, assisted in creating new domestic violence programs and worked to ensure state domestic violence laws are enforced.
The bill’s opening language notes that “domestic violence assails an individual’s right to privacy, dignity, security, and humanity, inflicts physical, emotional, and financial injury on its victims, and exists in every segment of our population.”