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Baton Rouge Police on scene of a reported shooting, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, on College Drive at Bennington Avenue in Baton Rouge, La.

Attorneys for the Baton Rouge Police Department have asked a judge hold a lawyer in contempt, saying he improperly sent a press release that included edited bodycam footage showing officers searching a teenager — even looking in his underwear — then entering an apartment without permission and conducting a warrantless search.

An uncut version of the video had already been made public months earlier, however. Several videos were filed into the court record after the incident resulted in a federal gun charge against Clarence Green, the teen's older brother, though that charge was later dismissed.

Shortly after requesting sanctions for the lawyer, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul called a press conference last month where he released additional footage, saying he wanted the public to get a more complete picture of what happened. Paul said he first received permission from a juvenile court judge.

He also bemoaned the negative media attention his department received since the edited footage was released, most of it focusing on the moments when officers found Green with a loaded gun in his underwear and recovered a bag of marijuana from his brother.

Court records obtained by The Advocate show that in addition to requesting permission to release more footage, BRPD attorneys asked for a contempt hearing.

East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Gail Grover granted the request and scheduled a hearing next month to consider whether the lawyer, Thomas Frampton, should be held in contempt for violating a state law sealing most juvenile court records from the public. A contempt finding could mean up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Frampton, who represents the Green family, argues his free speech rights are on the line.

He sent out the press release after securing a $35,000 settlement from Baton Rouge taxpayers after alleging BRPD officers violated the constitutional rights of both Green and his brother during a questionable traffic stop and warrantless search. In the release, Frampton called on BRPD leadership to hold the officers accountable.

That prompted additional scrutiny and national media coverage of the case, which first entered the public view after a federal judge agreed to dismiss the charge against Green — and issued his own scathing criticism of the officers involved.

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In a December order, Chief District Judge Brian Jackson called the case "emblematic of precisely the type of foul blows universally condemned by our jurisprudence." He lambasted the officers for "initiating a traffic stop on the thinnest of pretext" and then "haphazardly invading Defendant's home (weapons drawn) to conduct an unjustified, warrantless search."

BRPD leaders opened an internal investigation in response to those remarks. Both officers shown on the bodycam footage entering the apartment without a warrant could face discipline as a result of the internal inquiry, officials confirmed this week.

The officers under investigation are BRPD veteran Sgt. Ken Camallo and Officer Troy Lawrence Jr., whose father was named deputy chief last year.

In his request for a contempt hearing, Parish Attorney Andy Dotson noted that the department received a "substantial amount of negative correspondence from the public" after Frampton's press release.

Dotson declined to comment on the case when reached this week, citing pending litigation. BRPD officials gave the same response.

In a recent letter to Dotson, attorneys with the ACLU Louisiana, which is representing Frampton, said the edited footage was released with permission of the entire Green family, including the teen whose privacy rights are in question. The letter also notes how all bodycam videos pertaining to the case were filed into the court record last year and obtained by The Advocate via public records request in January.

Furthermore, the ACLU argued, the state law sealing juvenile court records specifically refers to "matters or proceedings before the juvenile court" — which does not apply here because the teenager shown in the footage never faced criminal charges after police found marijuana in his underwear and guns in his bedroom.

"By seeking to jail a law professor who lawfully shared video of police misconduct, your actions directly implicate the First Amendment," ACLU Legal Director Nora Ahmed wrote in the letter. "These circumstances … create an inescapable impression of retaliation for protected speech."

The letter, dated last Wednesday, asked attorneys for BRPD to give notice by Monday morning if they would agree to withdraw their request for contempt. A spokesperson for the ACLU said Tuesday they had not received a response.

The contempt hearing is scheduled for July 12 in juvenile court. It was not immediately clear whether the public will be allowed to attend.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.