BR settles lawsuit over released video of illegal search
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Virginia law professor is set to receive an $86,000 payment for settlement of his civil lawsuit filed against the City of Baton Rouge.
The settlement follows a federal court order in which U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles found “overwhelming evidence” that the city had acted in “bad faith and in retaliation” against Thomas Frampton.
Frampton is an associate professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law. In early 2021, Frampton represented a family in a civil rights case against the city after police conducted an unlawful strip search of a 16-year-old boy. That lawsuit addressed what another federal judge had called a “serious and wanton disregard” of the teenager’s constitutional rights.
In May 2021, the family settled its claims for $35,000. Following the settlement, and at his client’s request, Frampton publicly shared body camera footage of the officers’ treatment of his clients, including images of a strip search and of at least one officer entering their home, gun drawn, without a warrant.
The next day, city attorneys asked that Frampton be found “in contempt.”
Frampton then filed suit in federal court, arguing that the city was retaliating against him for exercising his freedom of speech. The court agreed with Frampton. The Baton Rouge Metro Council on Wednesday agreed to settle the lawsuit and to have the contempt allegations dismissed, his attorney, William Most, said in a statement.
“They could have settled this case for no money and an apology to the Green Family, but instead they chose to set $86,000 of taxpayer money on fire,” Frampton said. “It oozes contempt for the Constitution, the taxpayer, and common sense, and it’s a little baffling that anyone involved in this scandal still has a job.”
The City-Parish said the settlement, and others, was the best use of taxpayer dollars, despite the cost.
“These proposed resolutions by the parish attorney’s office are in no way an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. What they are is an attempt for a reasonable resolution to this matter that benefits the taxpayers. Parish attorney’s office is proposing these in order be good stewards with taxpayer funds and bring this matter to a conclusion,” Mark Armstrong, a spokesman for the City of Baton Rouge, told WBRZ-TV.