Hammond, LA — A disturbing video was leaked which subsequently led to calls for the chief of the Hammond police department to resign. It shows multiple officers put boots and knees on a man's face and neck as other officers savagely kick and punch him. The entire time, the victim, Kentdrick Ratliff, was handcuffed and unable to defend himself much less pose a threat to the officers.
This week, Seth Stoughton, an attorney and former police officer who teaches at the University of South Carolina School of Law, testified in front of the Hammond City Council, claiming that the video of Ratliff's beating is “one of the most abusive uses of force” he has ever investigated.
The incident happened on Dec. 6, 2017, and despite the gruesome video, FBI investigation, and testimony from experts — not a single one of the officers involved has faced so much as a wrist slap. In fact, one of them was promoted to chief.
The video was leaked to the local ABC affiliate WBRZ and depicts an act that is nothing short of graphic and criminal. After the video was released publicly, the police chief and the city have refused to acknowledge it. This is despite the fact that officers within the department were the ones to leak the video.
“We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron and Mayor Pete Panepinto have yet to release a statement regarding the incidents,” the state, Hammond area and Baton Rouge NAACP groups said in a joint letter released to WBRZ.
As the video shows, Ratliff, who was arrested "obstructing a sidewalk," was sitting quietly in a chair while being booked into the jail. He then made the terrible decision to stand up and attempt to pick up his bottle of pills police had confiscated. That's when all hell broke loose.
When Ratliff tries to grab the pills, an officer pulls him over the desk and wedges him between the desk and a set of computers before unleashing a fury of fists to the handcuffed and helpless man's face.
More cops enter the room and the handcuffed man is then tasered. He is completely held down and incapacitated with one cops boot to his face and another cop's knee to his neck, when another officer comes from behind and delivers a kick to his testicles. Ratliff is beaten and essentially tortured while handcuffed for over a minute straight.
After the incident, no mention of the video was made and Ratliff and the citizens of Hammond were left in the dark. The NAACP was even told that the video did not exist.
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"When I first saw that video, the first thing I thought was this is atrocious," Eugene Collins with the NAACP said. "Knowing the NAACP worked the situation a few years ago and at that point we were under the understanding that video did not exist...only clips."
According to WBRZ, only one of the officers involved was disciplined and later hired an attorney and use of force consultant to review the footage who determined some actions were legal.
"I got beat, stomped, kicked in my groin," Ratliff said in an interview with WBRZ.
Another officer, Edwin Bergeron, who was seen repeatedly punching Ratliff in the head was not disciplined. Instead, as stated above, he was promoted to police chief. This was in spite of the use of force investigation finding that his actions were "excessive and borderline criminal."
In the letter calling for the chief’s resignation, the NAACP local groups wrote: ”This behavior is egregious enough, but a blatant lie accompanied this behavior by your Police Department that the leaked video did not exist. Years later, good Officers on the Hammond Police Department leaked both the video and report in question. In light of everything we now know, we demand the immediate resignation of Chief Edwin Bergeron.”
Of the 10 uses of force seen in the video, according to the LA Illuminator, Stoughton said only two were reasonable in light of the circumstances. He deemed the remaining eight “unreasonable and excessive,” with up to four “egregiously unreasonable and excessive” actions that could constitute criminal acts.
One of the worst, Stoughton said, occurred at the end of the incident when Dunn stomped Ratliff’s face five times while Ratliff was lying on his side with his hands cuffed behind him.
“This is egregiously unreasonable,” Stoughton said. “It is among the most abusive uses of force I’ve seen in reviewing I can’t even tell you how many cases.”
Below is a video showing that even criminal acts caught on video of an officer savagely attacking a handcuffed man, will be no deterrent against moving up through the ranks of law enforcement. In fact, it won't even prevent you from becoming the top cop in town.
Full video below.