Yuseff Hamadeh

Yuseff Hamadeh 

A grand jury will soon consider whether to bring charges against former Baton Rouge police officer Yuseff Hamadeh, who resigned from the department last year after he was accused of lying about an August 2018 traffic stop in which he shot at a fleeing motorist.

The suspect in that case, Raheem Howard, has denied being armed or brandishing a weapon while running from his vehicle. Investigators ultimately concluded Hamadeh alone had fired a weapon and police never recovered an additional firearm or shell casings from the scene.

Howard's attorney, Ron Haley, confirmed Saturday that the grand jury will meet within the next couple of weeks to consider whether Hamadeh should face charges. The former officer could stand trial in that incident and an earlier fatal shooting — when he also fired his service weapon at a fleeing suspect in June 2017, killing Jordan Frazier. 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III declined to comment on the two cases. Prosecutors have been reviewing both for the past several months.

Hamadeh was fired from the police department in October 2018 after internal investigators found evidence that did not support his account of the shooting involving Howard. Hamadeh had blamed Howard for initiating gunfire, but investigators concluded the officer was the only one who pulled a trigger. No one was injured in the shooting.

Hamadeh later appealed his termination and won on a technicality when the local civil service board found that the department's internal investigators violated Hamadeh's officer rights when he wasn't allowed counsel during a polygraph examination. The board oversees discipline decisions for Baton Rouge police officers and firefighters.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul later struck a deal with Hamadeh that allowed the officer to voluntarily resign from the department, instead of being fired, and receive back pay. Paul said then that the agreement was the surest way to avoid prolonged litigation and ensure Hamadeh would never return to the city's police force.

Howard was jailed for about three weeks after the traffic stop in August 2018, accused of attempted murder of a police officer — an allegation that prosecutors later dropped. He filed a lawsuit last year in federal court alleging the Baton Rouge Police Department violated his constitutional rights by recklessly endangering his life, then detaining him on false information.

Hamadeh's untruthful statements about the incident landed him on a list of 30 local law enforcement officers with compromising pasts that could affect their credibility during a trial, prompting prosecutors to review those cases and drop charges in some of them. Moore has said that adding Hamadeh to that list had an outsized impact because he had been assigned to the city's highly active Street Crimes Unit and had been involved in a large number of arrests resulting primarily in gun and drug charges.

In the 2017 fatal shooting, Baton Rouge police said Frazier had pointed a gun at Hamadeh after a traffic stop, prompting the officer to shoot and kill the suspect. There was no video or audio footage from that incident.

An upcoming decision from the grand jury will determine whether Hamadeh faces criminal charges in either Frazier's death or the shooting involving Howard. It's unclear which charges specifically are on the table.

Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.