LSU Florida Football

Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller (51) tackles LSU wide receiver Koy Moore after a reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

After three Baton Rouge police officers were cleared of wrongdoing in an incident last fall involving an LSU football player who claimed police harassed him, attorneys for LSU Wide Receiver Koy Moore criticized the department Thursday for making decisions behind closed doors and failing to hold its members accountable. 

But an attorney for the officers said they had been vindicated — and called for Moore to be held accountable for bringing "false allegations."

Moore posted on social media in November alleging that he was harassed and "violated numerous times" during an encounter with Baton Rouge police in an apartment complex parking garage near campus.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul cleared the officers following a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, then refused to disclose any information about the case, including the outcome of the hearing, which is public record. Instead of releasing the information, Paul through a spokesman directed The Advocate to file a public records request, which could take weeks or months to fill.

However, attorneys for Moore confirmed that two of the officers were issued letters of caution, which are considered more minor than formal discipline, and the third faces no consequences. Sources told The Advocate the letters originated from use of profanity during the encounter. 

"Unfortunately for Koy, his first ever encounter with police fell well outside of the conduct expected from police officers. When misconduct and policy violations occur, accountability and discipline must follow," attorneys Mark Glago and Jatavian Williams said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

The attorneys criticized the BRPD discipline process, saying Moore should have been allowed to tell his side of the story during the Wednesday hearings: "Basically, the BRPD officers scored a touchdown during practice when there was no defense on the field."

They said that process should come as "a warning sign that the outcome of this situation will do little to change officer behavior."

Baton Rouge attorney Kyle Kershaw, who represented the officers during their disciplinary hearing Wednesday, also later confirmed the outcome of the internal investigation. He said the officers were "happy that Chief Paul was able to view the video evidence presented and dismiss the false allegations of Mr. Moore."

"We are hopeful that LSU will hold Mr. Moore accountable for violating the Student Code of Conduct, which resulted in damage to these officers," Kershaw said in a statement Wednesday night. He said the code includes a clause about making reckless false statements.

LSU did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning. 

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Paul offered no explanation for refusing to release public information about the case on Wednesday. His silence came in stark contrast to an initial reaction from him and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who assured Moore they were thoroughly investigating the incident soon after he posted on social media back in November.

"We take these allegations seriously and will await the findings of the investigation," Broome said at the time. "We will get to the bottom of this situation and keep the lines of communication open with the community."

After several media reports about the officers being cleared, the mayor issued a statement Thursday afternoon promising that the police department will release more information soon, including bodycam footage. Broome suggested the lack of discipline handed down to the three officers is not the whole story. She pushed back on the comments from their lawyer.

"We should not be so quick to disregard the experiences of our citizens and their interactions with law enforcement, nor should we be inflexible in our views of these incidents," Broome said, pledging to be "intentional in our efforts to address public concerns," including potential policy changes.

The incident drew national media attention based on how Moore described the way he was treated. His Twitter post was shared widely online.

LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron posted a response saying he was "aware of the serious statements" and pledging "to listen, learn and come together to combat social injustice and racism if we are to create a safer and more equitable society for all people."

According to a police report, the officers were responding to complaints from an apartment security guard who reported a loud party atop the parking garage of the Ion apartment complex on Chimes Street, where Moore was living. The guard said there were about 200 people blasting music. 

When officers responded to the complex, they did not find a party but encountered Moore in the parking garage. His longtime friend, Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden, was visiting that weekend, and the two were on the way to grab something to eat after a long night of playing video games, according to his attorneys.

Officers approached the two students aggressively and held them at gunpoint, then cursed at them and searched Moore for drugs and weapons, the attorneys said. They called the encounter an assault that was "unwarranted, unjustified and was overly aggressive" and claimed the incident would have gone unreported and unaddressed without Moore posting on social media.

"Both young men remained completely unaware of why they were being stopped and harassed. The officers provided no explanation," the attorneys wrote. "There are some that want to celebrate a victory for these police officers. Their words do nothing to change the facts of how these officers acted."

The officers involved in the incident were initially placed on administrative leave but returned to regular duty several weeks ago. 

The department is expected to release records and bodycam footage sometime in the future.

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