Community activist upset with former EBRSO deputy’s teardrop photo

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“You took a life, that’s nothing to celebrate, that’s nothing to brag about. There’s no stripe earned.”

Baton Rouge’s NAACP President, Eugene Collins said, the officer in a controversial photo crossed the line.

“The tear drop on his face, let’s not mix anything, we know that that mean” said Collins.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office confirmed, a picture of former deputy James Hammett was sent out via text.

In a statement, EBRSO said, a second deputy, Kalya Clark took the photo saying, “the picture and text was in reference to Hammett’s sadness at doing time on administrative duty.”

“First and foremost, let’s start with the lack of sensitivity.”

Two months to this day, on September 15, Hammett was placed on leave after shooting and killing 54-year-old Melvin Watkins. The Louisiana State Police ruled that shooting, justified.

“It’s something that we cannot tolerate in this town form public servants we have to do a better job to ensure these people never where badges and never wear uniforms.”

Casey Hicks with the Sheriff’s Office said, following the picture being circulated, an investigation was scheduled to be launched. She said, when the deputies were notified of the investigation, they resigned.

“It was quite cowardly that he resigned before he could face the music.”

The attached picture is of a text message received by Uniform Patrol Captain Jared Ruiz.

It came from Deputy Kayla Clark’s personal cell phone, on the night that she was working light duty on shift with the pictured deputy, James Hammett (was also on administrative duty.)

Captain Ruiz called and notified Uniform Patrol Major Ricky Klug of the text he received.

Major Klug met with and notified Colonel White concerning the text.

In an abundance of caution Colonel White notified Internal Affairs to investigate to determine if any policy violations occurred.

Colonel White instructed Major Klug to counsel both involved parties and make them aware that there would be an investigation.

Major Klug stated that during his verbal counsel, the deputy that sent the text stated that she was trying to cheer up the other deputy because he was sad that he was not allowed on the road at this time and was on administrative duty.

She stated the picture and text was in reference to his sadness at “doing time” on administrative duty rather than working on patrol.

The deputy pictured said that he felt that she was being silly in an effort to cheer him up. Major Klug notified both that an internal affairs investigation would be conducted.

The next week, both Clark and Hammett put in their voluntary resignations.

Clark cited difficulties with shift work and family life while Hammett cited other unrelated personal reasons.

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