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NOPD fails to report shooting by officer

18th August 2014   ·   0 Comments

Officer turned off body camera before shooting occurred

Two days after the Aug. 11 incident, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the late release of information about an officer-involved shooting was a “snafu” and mistake on the part of the police department, for which he accepts full responsibility, FOX 8 News reported.

The “snafu” comes after 12 months of a federally mandated NOPD consent decree and happened despite a 492-point plan to fine-tune the embattled police department’s operations and make it compliant with federal standards for constitutional policing.

NOPD Officer Lisa Lewis reportedly fired a weapon during a traffic stop Monday, striking suspect Armand Bennett, 26, in the head. Serpas said the shots were fired following a scuffle between the two. However, the NOPD did not disclose the shooting to the public until Wednesday evening.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Serpas declined to be specific about the sequence of events, but he did say the traffic stop was initiated based on outstanding warrants stemming from a previous incident between Lewis and the suspect in which the suspect resisted arrest and escaped.

Attorney Nandi Campbell, who represents Bennett, disagreed with Serpas’ account of how both incidents unfolded. Campbell told FOX 8 her client has never been convicted of a crime.

The Aug. 11 shooting happened in the 3700 block of Mimosa Court in Algiers at 1:20 a.m.

Bennett has been in the hospital for several days, but his injuries are not life-threatening, police said. Upon his release he was booked with five outstanding warrants, including illegal possession of a weapon, resisting an officer charges in Gretna and Orleans, possession of marijuana and criminal damage to property. There may be additional charges stemming from Monday’s incident.

Officer Lewis sustained a minor hand injury, and was treated and released from the hospital, a police spokesperson said.

Armond Bennett, was released from the hospital and booked with simple criminal damage to property, illegal carrying of a weapon, and possession of marijuana.

On Friday, a judge set Bennett’s bond at $12,000.

Serpas said he signed off on the release of information Monday, but it was never made public.

While Serpas said during Wednesday’s press conference that the NOPD does not make a habit of withholding critical information from the public, the Rev. Raymond Brown, a community activist and president of National Action Now, pointed to the Bourbon Street shooting at the end of June after which the NOPD waited several days to release the names of the victims, six of whom were tourists.

Bennett’s attorney, Nandi Campbell said her client never resisted and she claimed the officer fired a second shot at Bennett as he ran away.

The officer’s attorney told FOX 8 that Lewis turned her body camera off because her shift was about to end and she was on her way back to the 4th District police station when she made the traffic stop.

“The NOPD’s troubled past makes it hard to believe that the failure to report this shooting was an honest mistake and that the officer just happened to turn off her body camera before this shooting,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a New Orleans businessman and former congressional candidate, told The Louisiana Weekly. “That’s awfully convenient.”

“This is a police department that has proven that it cannot be trusted to be forthright with information about its dealings with the public, particularly with Black residents,” Brown told The Louisiana Weekly. :It’s interesting that last week’s ‘snafu’ as well as the delay in releasing the names of the Bourbon Street shooting victims in June happened during the implementation of the NOPD consent decree.

“There’s obviously still a lot of work that has to be done to overhaul this department, including, perhaps the selection of a new police chief who is not beholden to the mayor,” Brown added.

This article originally published in the August 18, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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