Criminal Justice

Friday Cop News Drop

1. Fourth NOPD officer charged in Danziger Bridge shooting and cover up

Officer Robert Barrios was charged in a bill of information Friday, which could indicate that –  like Michael Lohman, Michael Hunter, and Jeffrey Lehrmann before him – he will plead guilty.

Additionally, Marion David Ryder, the civilian who posed as a deputy sheriff and was false witness against the victims of the Danziger Bridge shooting, pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to the FBI, though he is expected to plead guilty at a future proceeding.

2. FBI Investigation No. 9?

I haven’t yet discussed the story of Brian Harris, who was shot by an NOPD officer in his home in New Orleans East last weekend after his wife called the police for assistance with what was an apparent suicide attempt. Harris was shot while brandishing a knife after apparently fighting through attempts to subdue him with a Taser. The Harris family is now suing the NOPD for excessive force, arguing that Harris did not pose an immediate threat. In response, and because of the pre-existing scrutiny from other civil rights cases, the NOPD has invited the FBI to also examine this shooting.

3. Acting Superintendent

The Times-Picayune’s report on the NOPD’s invitation to the FBI to investigate the Harris shooting credited NOPD Assistant Superintendent Marlon Defillo with the decision to reach out to the FBI and also contained the following information:

Defillo is the acting superintendent at the moment. Police Superintendent Warren Riley, who is in the last month of his tenure as chief, was taking furlough days this week, police spokesman Bob Young said.

That seems sensible, given the public’s frustration with Riley and the microscope he’s under for his leadership as Deputy Chief of Field Operations during the aftermath of Katrina, when many of the alleged civil-rights incidents under investigation occurred.

But the same day, WDSU-TV actually located Superintendent Riley for an interview. Riley took responsibility for the decision to reach out to the FBI and indicated that there was video of the shooting of Harris recorded when officers attempted to subdue him with Tasers, which are all outfitted with automatic recording equipment.

“I’m sure at some point the video will be released and people will judge for themselves,” Riley said.

“Clearly the family has concerns about the shooting,” Riley said. “We feel, with the recent scrutiny, we feel it’s necessary that the family feel comfortable that the FBI is looking into this.”

He said he wants to make one thing clear: The FBI is not leading the investigation.

“We have extended the offer to the FBI. If that makes the family feel better, so be it,” Riley said. “We want them to feel good about the investigation.”

So is Riley still in charge on a day-to-day basis or is Marlon Defillo pretty much calling the shots at this point? Defillo has certainly taken on a larger public presence over the last several weeks.

NOPD spokesman Gary Flot reiterated that Warren Riley “is the Superintendent and is acting as the Superintendent.” The T-P’s distinction resulted from the fact that somebody had to act as superintendent because the superintendent, Flot said, was on furlough. Clear enough?

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