BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An appellate court reinstated the firings of two Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers who were accused of abusing power in connection with a 2014 sexual assault. The firing was previously thrown in flux after a back-and-forth between a district court and the Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board.
The incident began in February of 2014, when former officers Travis Wheeler, Emerson Jackson, and Issac Bolden were accused of going up to a man and woman in a car at a BREC Park on Old Hammond Highway and telling the man to leave.” Bolden then allegedly threatened the woman with vehicle impoundment and the arrest of her mother if she didn’t perform a sexual act on him, according to court records.
“The young man returned to the park after receiving an explicit text message from the young woman about what was to transpire, and upon re-entering the park, Jackson and Wheeler stopped him before he made it to the parked vehicles. The young man was told to leave the park or face arrest,” a court filing obtained by WAFB states.
Bolden resigned after being with the department for just over a year.
Jackson and Wheeler were fired after being indicted by a grand jury. Both had been with BRPD for at least five years. They remained in Baton Rouge and pleaded their case to the Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board to get their old jobs back, but the board denied their requests.
In 2017, Wheeler and Bolden were acquitted of the crime and requested a review by a district court on the firings.
In October of 2018, that district court ruled to reverse the firings, writing in a ruling that the Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board “went outside of the scope of their authority.”
However, in the latest ruling issued Monday, Jan. 6, Judge Vanessa Whipple writes the board in fact acted within its authority to approve the firing. Judge Whipple noted even though the court acquitted the two officers of a crime, the standards used to approve the firing by the board do not equate to the standards required to convict them of anything criminal.