A 24-year-old man said Thursday Baton Rouge police stomped and punched him, breaking bones in his face when they arrested him during a demonstration over the weekend near police headquarters.
Javier Dunn of Baton Rouge said at a brief press conference that officers in riot gear charged across Goodwood Boulevard and grabbed him from where he was leaning on a car on the far side of the road around 8:30 p.m. Saturday and dragged him into the street where two Baton Rouge policemen struck him with their feet and fists.
Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. Don A. Coppola Jr. said the department had not received a complaint about the incident as of Thursday afternoon but have reached out to Dunn after viewing the video of the arrest.
James M. Williams, Dunn's attorney, said they have not filed a lawsuit but they're willing to pursue all legal options to make sure officers are held accountable.
A witness, Tracy Fountain, filmed part of the beating, which she said does not capture the worst of the blows. She said Dunn had not been in the road and did not resist officers before he was grabbed and dragged into the street.
"It took a few seconds to comprehend what was really going on. That's when I eventually began to record it," said Fountain, who said she met Dunn at a community meeting the day before and was actually standing closer to the road than Dunn.
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Dunn said police pushed him to the ground and repeatedly used a racial epithet before they handcuffed him with zip-ties and led him away.
"I was held by two officers on my back, one officer stomping my face into the pavement and another officer kneeling down to throw three punches to my face, to my eye," Dunn said.
Dunn said police took him to an emergency room where he was diagnosed with a fractured orbital, or eye socket, before he was taken to Parish Prison where he was booked. He said he did not receive further medical treatment after he was taken to jail.
Dunn said he feared for his life for the rest of his detention and wasn't able to make a phone call to relatives for at least 16 hours.
His official booking mug, released by the Parish Prison on Thursday shows him with gashes on his chin and right eyebrow and severe swelling below his left eye. A photograph, which his attorney confirmed was taken of Dunn at the jail, circulated widely this week on social media, and shows the same injuries.
A photo provided by state Rep. Ted James, who said he's known Dunn for the past 15 years, shows Dunn without cuts or bruises to his face as he helped carry a large banner earlier Saturday, reading "Stop murder by police."
The first page of a Baton Rouge police arrest report for Dunn makes no mention of a struggle between Dunn and officers. A handwritten second page was added to the report, in which the arresting officer says Dunn resisted the initial arrest and again resisted when officers had him on the ground and were trying to handcuff him. It ends with, "Officers were able to take the defendant into custody and he was booked accordingly."
The police report does not mention Dunn's injuries or that officers had to take him to the hospital.
About 1,500 people demonstrated along Airline Highway and Goodwood Boulevard near police headquarters Saturday night over the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by a Baton Rouge policeman earlier in the week.
Williams said Dunn was released from jail late Tuesday.
Several people, who spent time in jail with Dunn after they were arrested at protests Saturday, said his injuries — including bulging bruises around his eye — stood out, even among the weary prisoners.
Dale Batiste, 54, and his 31-year-old son, Carvel Batiste, 31, said they shared a holding cell with Dunn for much of Saturday night.
"I told one of the guards through the bars that he needs medical attention. One of the guards told me, 'That's what y'all get when you protest,'" said Dale Batiste, who said blood was dripping from Dunn's wounds.
"They wouldn't give us any (ice) but one of the guards, he kind of slipped me some," Dale Batiste said. The guard "passed by and put the cup on the bars so we could put in a towel, put it on his eye to try to get the swelling down."
Most others jailed following the protests Saturday were released on bail Monday morning, but Dunn remained in custody for another day. In addition to the counts of resisting arrest and obstruction of a highway, Dunn had an outstanding bench warrant issued after he failed to show up for a final probation hearing over a 2013 misdemeanor conviction. The bench warrant was recalled Monday.
Williams, Dunn's attorney, said he didn't believe officers had any way of knowing who his client was or that he had experienced past brushes with the law. The Baton Rouge police officers, Williams said, grabbed Dunn "without provocation or warning" and used "unnecessary, unlawful, brutal force."
James, the state representative who hosted the press conference in his private law office in downtown Baton Rouge, said he saw Dunn passing out water bottles and peacefully protesting at demonstrations before his arrest.
"We've done a lot to denounce the actions of the protesters that have come here and might have incited violence," James said Thursday. "I want to make sure that we hold those accountable on our police force that are denying the First Amendment rights of those in our community."