New Orleans PD shoots unarmed black man in the head, doesn’t report incident for 2 days
August 17, 2014
While most of the nation’s attention has been focused on the police shooting deaths of unarmed African Americans around the country — most notably Michael Brown and Ezell Ford — one story managed to slip under the media’s radar. News of a young African-American man shot in the head by a New Orleans police officer on Monday managed to go unreported because the police department never released details about the shooting.
The victim, identified as 26-year-old Armand Bennett, was shot in the head Monday during a traffic stop with a New Orleans police officer. He has been admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital. Armand’s attorney Nandi Campbell told UPTOWN via email, “My client was shot in the head and staples were required to close the wound.”
He was with his brother in a parked car, near the Tall Timbers subdivision, when officers confronted them with their guns drawn. Tall Timbers is a fairly affluent neighborhood, where Armand’s brother is a resident. The brother reported that a female officer fired two shots at them.
Campbell also tell us, ”He was not armed. After the first [shot], Armand started running toward his brother’s home. He was fired upon again as he was running. I’m unclear about whether he was in car when first shot was fired, but he was close to the car when the first shot happened.”
The story was first reported on Monday, which had a bare bones report that an “officer needs assistance” call was placed on the 3700 block of Mimosa Ct. in Algiers, a community in New Orleans. The NOPD reported an officer, recently identified as Officer Lisa Lewis, suffered a minor injury to her right hand during a scuffle with a combative suspect around 1:30 a.m. Details were not released that anyone had been shot or what the confrontation was about.
Campbell said there is an ongoing investigation into her client’s ordeal. At this time, Bennett has been charged with five outstanding warrants, including illegal possession of a weapon, resisting an officer (Gretna, LA), resisting an officer (New Orleans), possession of marijuana, and criminal damage to property, according to WWLTV.
A public records request for information fell on deaf ears over at the NOPD until Wednesday evening when the following statement was released:
On Sunday, August 10, 2014, around 1:19 a.m., a Fourth District NOPD officer was conducting a traffic stop in the 3700 block of Mimosa Drive. During the traffic stop, the officer was injured and the suspect, 26-year-old Armand Bennett was shot.
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas publicly apologized on Wednesday for taking two days to release details about the shooting. “In this particular case it’s a complete snafu on the part of my team. I take responsibility for it, I apologize for it, and I don’t want it to happen again,” said Serpas. He said that a press release was prepared on Monday, but somehow slipped through the cracks.
“I find it simply unacceptable to you and to the public that our office failed to get the information out,” Serpas added.
After the information was made public Wednesday evening, Campbell had this to say via email, “Normally traffic stops do not include officers approaching the car with guns drawn. [The NOPD] Chief cannot decide if it was a traffic stop or if [the] officer stopped my client because she was aware of [the] outstanding warrant.”
She continues, “According to my client and his brother, there was no tussle, wrestling, or physical altercation with my client and the officer. They totally dispute the statement made by the chief.”
Photo credit: Bennett Family