Internal investigation into roadside altercation underway
A West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy arrested this week could face additional discipline after he shoved an Addis police officer and threatened another officer who, during a routine traffic stop, pulled over a car containing the deputy’s wife, daughter and her boyfriend.
Maj. Ronald “Ronnie” Graham, chief of uniform patrol for the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Wednesday for simple battery and issued a misdemeanor summons after his fiery confrontation with police officers in Brusly on Sunday night.
Col. Richie Johnson, with the Sheriff’s Office, said Friday an internal investigation of the incident involving Graham, a 30-year veteran of the force, is underway.
“The sheriff is going to defer any administrative action against Graham until after his criminal court proceedings,” Johnson said. “He was off duty when this happened. Had this happened while he was on duty we’d be talking about a different scenario, which would include malfeasance.
“We will not tolerate this type of behavior regardless of rank,” Johnson said.
The matter began around 7 p.m. Sunday when Brusly officers stopped the vehicle on West St. Francis Street for having only one working headlight, according to the incident report.
The driver, Russell Walker, who Graham in police footage of the incident referred to as his “future son-in-law,” got out to talk to the officers.
At one point, Walker leaned into the car, apparently to inform Nancy Graham that he didn’t have his driver’s license with him, according to the report. She then got out of the car and identified herself as Ronnie Graham’s wife.
Brusly police repeatedly told her to get back in the car, but she continued to approach the police car. That’s when they handcuffed her.
Nancy Graham then asked her daughter to call Ronnie Graham, the report states.
Ronnie Graham, slightly inebriated, showed up at the scene, driven there by another person, according to the police report.
In an obscenity-laced exchange, Graham demanded the officers release his wife, the incident report says. Graham, 54, also threatened to “bash in” the head of one of the officers.
Things escalated when additional officers from the Sheriff’s Office and Addis Police Department arrived at the scene as backup.
Ronnie Graham shoved Addis Lt. Jason Langlois in the chest after Langlois told him to shut up because Graham had ordered that he back up and not “sneak up on him,” the report says.
Langlois and another Addis police officer withdrew their stun guns and threatened to use them on Graham if he didn’t calm down, according to the incident report. Graham responded with yet another obscenity.
Sheriff Mike Cazes eventually showed up, issuing a direct order to Graham to shut up and sit in the sheriff’s vehicle.
In video footage of the incident, Cazes is heard telling the other officers that Graham is temperamental and “very redneck.”
Johnson said Nancy Graham was released by police and no charges were filed against her or Walker.
Ronnie Graham referred all questions Friday about the incident to his attorney, Glynn Delatte.
Delatte, a former law enforcement officer, said the surveillance video speaks for itself. “What happened that night, I think, was an overreaction on everyone’s part,” he said.
Delatte said Graham will accept the simple battery charge because it is clear he pushed the officer, but it was inappropriate for the Addis officer to have told Graham to shut up.
Delatte added that Graham is eager to do whatever it takes to put this incident behind him.
Graham’s court date is scheduled May 6. He’s facing up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail if he’s found guilty of simple battery.