BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police cadets suffered such severe injuries during the 2019 State Police Academy that one nurse said the cadets resembled “victims of domestic abuse and motor vehicle crashes.”
One of the cadets was so badly bruised, he looked like he had a “full body tattoo from his waist to his collarbone,” a fellow cadet told investigators.
Investigators said the yellow training pads used to carry out the violence were later found stained with blood.
The state police trooper accused of ordering much of the cadet violence, or personally carrying it out, Sergeant Len Marie, remains on the force.
That’s despite some cadets describing Marie as appearing to be “mentally deranged” and “crazy” and Marie taking part in the academy with a training certification that was expired.
Marie was ultimately demoted from the rank of Lieutenant because of his actions at the academy. And, his pay was reduced from $99,795 per year to $90,312 annually. He is no longer assigned to the academy.
A fellow trooper who witnessed Marie’s actions said they were “foolish” and “archaic” and made him “sick”, records show.
The yellow pads used in the incidents are designed to teach cadets how to block themselves from physical attacks once they become troopers.
A sergeant in the same training academy said Marie encouraged him to take part in the intense events saying, “You don’t have any hair on your balls if you’re not going to do that drill again with the yellow pads.”
The findings are outlined in a Louisiana State Police (LSP) internal affairs investigation launched after reports of the cadet abuse surfaced in October 2019.
LSP released the findings to WAFB-TV Thursday, nearly one year after the records were first requested.
Almost all of the 55 cadets taking part in the class had some sort of bruising, the newly-released records show.
Instructors who worked with Marie said they believed he used the yellow pads because he was upset about news that some of the cadets were possibly cheating on academic portions of the academy.
One cadet said he felt personally “targeted” by Marie and believed Marie was retaliating against him because of the alleged cheating.
Another cadet said Marie hit him so hard in the back of the neck with a pad he was knocked unconscious. A nurse later diagnosed that same cadet with “post-concussion” symptoms.
Another trooper said it appeared Marie had “hijacked” the academy.
Cadets said the yellow pads used seemed to have a hard substance in them, almost “like concrete,” a “brick,” a “baseball” or a “metal rod,” the records say.
Former Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie was one of the instructors in that same LSP Academy. Dabadie told internal affairs investigators he observed some of the drills Marie carried out and found them to be of no training value but, instead, “appeared to be punishment.”
One cadet said she saw Dabadie walking out of one of the training session saying he wanted “nothing to do with it.”
Another trooper says Marie told him the pads were “like getting hit with bricks.” That same trooper told investigators Marie “was sweating much more than other instructors and seemed boastful about how hard the cadets were hitting each other.”
Another trooper said Marie told him he had struck a cadet so hard that the pad “wrapped around the cadet’s arm,” the report said. The trooper said Marie “was proud and seemed to be bragging about it.”
A fellow instructor told investigators Marie told him he had been bruised years before, in his own academy, and “now it’s their turn.”
The yellow pads are designed to be swung with about 50 percent force, investigators determined. However, one trooper said Marie appeared to be using nearly 90 percent force. “He stated Marie has a background in baseball and was using his hips to perform the drill,” the records state.
However, at least one other trooper said he never witnessed the pads being used in an improper manner.
One of injured cadets provided a photograph of himself to investigators that “showed him shirtless and displaying bruising on his left and right shoulders and arms,” the records say.
The LSP records say one of the injured cadets went to a walk-in clinic to seek treatment. However, he was then sent to an emergency room because medical personnel “believed that the deep bruising could lead him to needing surgery for Compartment Syndrome.” That is a rare medical condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. It was later determined the cadet did not need surgery. That cadet said his injuries were the result of being hit by fellow cadets during the yellow pad incidents.
Marie was twice interviewed by internal affairs investigators, including once with his attorney present. He insisted he only used the pads with 50 to 75 percent intensity. “I never struck anyone and would never strike anyone at 100 percent,” he said.
Neither Marie nor his attorney responded to a request for comment for this report.
Another trooper, Sergeant Henry Clay Reavis, served as Cadet Class Coordinator for the 2019 class. He was also demoted as a result of the investigation. That is because cadets under his watch were found to be sleep-deprived due to overnight “fire watch” drills they had to perform. And, because some cadets were found with contraband in their room. Reavis retired earlier this year.
“The Internal Affairs findings into the Cadet Class 99 training incident were completed following a thorough and detailed investigation,” Colonel Davis said in a statement. “The investigation and disciplinary decisions were conducted during the previous administration; however, we continue to review our training protocols and policies and develop best practices so that we can provide the best training environment possible. I am confident in our Training Academy Staff and training curriculum. Ensuring a safe environment while upholding our training standards remains paramount in producing the best law enforcement professionals possible.”
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