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The adult daughter of a finalist for New Orleans police chief shares a house with one of the NOPD officers who was present at a Mid-City bar when off-duty colleagues allegedly beat a group of city transit workers, an event that is the subject of a FBI civil rights investigation.
The 28-year-old daughter of Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas, Mandy Serpas, lives with her boyfriend, Travis Ward, in a modest home in Venetian Isles. Ward was one in a small group of off-duty police officers partying at the Beach Corner Bar and Grill on Mardi Gras night in 2008. The night’s celebrations were cut short when an alleged brawl between officers and off-duty Regional Transit Authority workers left transit workers beaten, and one fingered in a falsified police report, according to an internal investigation completed by the NOPD in October of that year.
Following the investigation, the NOPD dismissed one officer and suspended two others. While Ward is not a known suspect in the ongoing FBI investigation and was treated as a witness, not a subject of the NOPD probe, he was subsequently suspended for an unrelated discipline offense.
As recently as March 29, 33-year-old Ward was telling friends on Facebook that “suspension ain’t half bad,” describing frequent jaunts to Nashville.
The NOPD could not say Wednesday whether Ward’s 60-day unpaid leave was complete or ongoing.
A look at the Facebook pages of Ward and Mandy Serpas shows that both openly support NOPD Capt. Jeff Winn, now the subject of a federal investigation into police misconduct following Hurricane Katrina.
According to The Times-Picayune, Winn is one of two officers that are the focus of a probe into an Algiers man who perished in Algiers in the days after the storm.
No one answered the door or phone calls at the Ward-Serpas home, and calls to Ward’s cell phone were not answered.
The tie between the police chief candidate and NOPD officers under investigation raise red flags for citizens who are ready for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the department.
“This is another indicator that Serpas grew up in the troubled culture of the NOPD,” longtime police brutality activist Malcolm Suber said. “Therefore while he does understand what is wrong with the culture, he has friends and comrades that he will be hesitant to get to rid of because his relationships.”
Serpas is one of two finalists for the superintendent’s job. The other is Ronald Davis of East Palo Alto, Calif.
Landrieu said Wednesday that he expects to announce his choice soon.