A West Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged with simple battery after shoving an Addis police officer during a traffic stop in Brusly on Sunday, March 2.
Maj. Ronald “Ronnie” Graham, WBRSO’s chief of uniform patrol, was arrested Wednesday, March 5, for his actions days earlier when he confronted a uniformed Addis officer that was called to assist a Brusly police officer during a routine traffic stop that turned into anything-but-routine.
Brusly officers pulled over a vehicle for having a non-working headlight around 7 p.m., Sunday evening, according to the incident report.
Several minutes into the traffic stop, one of the passengers in the vehicle, Nancy Graham, exited the vehicle and told officers that she was the wife of Maj. Ronnie Graham of the sheriff’s office.
Officers asked Mrs. Graham to return to the vehicle, but when she refused and continued to move closer to the police vehicle, they handcuffed her, according to an officer on the scene.
Maj. Graham, shortly thereafter, arrived on the scene, demanding the release of his wife, amidst a slew of obscene language, including threats to harm the officers.
Addis officers arrived after being called in for backup, and recorded the remainder of the altercation via police dash cam.
“This is my wife, my daughter and my future son-in-law,” Maj. Graham told officers. “What the (expletive) is the problem?”
The officer who initiated the traffic stop told Maj. Graham that Mrs. Graham had not listened to him when asked to get back into her vehicle.
“She needs to obey my command,” the officer said.
As the officer and Mrs. Graham are explaining the situation, Maj. Graham told Addis officer Justin Langlois to back away from him during the discussion.
“You need to step back. Don’t come up on me like that,” Maj. Graham said, to which Langlois replied, “shut up.”
Graham became irate and charged at Langlois, shoving him in the chest.
Officers drew their tasers, directing them at Maj. Graham, but did not fire, as Mrs. Graham calmed her husband. By this time, Mrs. Graham had been uncuffed in the officers’ attempt to calm Maj. Graham.
Several minutes after the skirmish WBR Sheriff Mike Cazes arrived on the scene. While speaking with an officer, Maj. Graham started yelling and Cazes gave him a direct order to “get in my (expletive) vehicle and shut up!”
The video captured by police dash cam shows that Cazes told officers that he knows Graham on a personal level and knows that he has “a very hot temper,” adding that Maj. Graham had been drinking and “he’s a redneck.”
“She (Nancy Graham) thought she was above the law,” one officer said to another as the vehicles all pulled away
Maj. Graham was arrested days later after Langlois pressed charges for simple battery.
“This situation escalated from a headlight being out,” said Colonel Richie Johnson of the WBRSO. “This is a 30-year veteran who’s got to go to court. He was arrested – that’s not a slap on the wrist.”
Johnson said that he understands some may question why the charge to Maj. Graham is merely simple battery, and not something that may bring a stiffer fine or jail time, but he said that the charge was placed at Langlois’s request.
“We had to contact the victim (Langlois), and in conversation and after consultation with the victim, that’s what I charged (Maj. Graham) with,” Johnson said.
As far as administrative action, Johnson said that Sheriff Cazes will not take administrative action until criminal proceedings have been completed.
“The Sheriff’s Office’s plan: the administrative action will be deferred until the completion of the criminal proceedings. He’s not going to take any action on a final disposition… until the close of the criminal proceedings,” Johnson said.
Police chiefs in Brusly and Addis said they would like to see administrative action taken, and are curious to see what the sheriff’s office plans to do.
“Something should be done… I couldn’t care less about the charges – it’s the administrative part that needs to be handled,” said Ricky Anderson, Addis Police Chief. “Had that been an Addis officer, number one, he would have been pulled out of service immediately, pending investigation. And ultimately with the video evidence, would probably be fired.”
Brusly Police Chief Jamie Whaley said that he, too, wants to see what happens administratively, but said that he thinks the whole situation was unfortunate.
“I don’t want to say too much, because we’re still investigating it. We’re just going to see what happens with it internally,” Whaley said. “Anytime one of us has to be arrested, I think it’s unfortunate.”
Whaley said that other charges may be filed in the future, but the charges will have to come from Langlois.
“Anything else we do on our end is going to have to (stem from) a complaint by the Addis officer,” he said.
Johnson said that Langlois expressed that the simple battery charges were enough and that he didn’t want to cause unnecessary friction between agencies.
“The facts of it are that (Maj. Graham) acted inappropriately. He acted in a criminal manner, and we dealt with it,” Johnson said. “I’d do it again tomorrow. We’re not going to tolerate it, no matter what rank you are.” Johnson said.