Criminal Justice

Despite recent practices, NOPD silent on arrest record of Samaritan killed in Algiers

Update, 2:35: The city, through its Nola Ready alert system, has released the victim’s criminal record.  

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

In what appears to be a departure from the recent New Orleans Police Department practice of releasing criminal records of homicide victims, the department has not released the arrest record of the Good Samaritan killed in an Algiers carjacking Wednesday.


Superintendent Ronal Serpas has been widely criticized for releasing the records of victims, in some cases citing arrests, but not convictions, from more than 10 years ago. Critics say the practice tends to blame the victim, but Serpas said there’s a connection that shouldn’t be ignored between a homicide victim and his or her criminal past.

Last week, City Council members Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Susan Guidry complained about the practice at a committee meeting, but Serpas defended the action, saying it has the community talking and thinking.

When The Lens asked about the silence regarding the arrests of Henry “Mike” Ainsworth for marijuana possession in 2000 and 2006, NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden said the department plans to issue a release later today releasing the information.

She said the department intends to continue releasing criminal records of victims of crime.

She said the department didn’t release the information sooner because it wanted to focus on getting out the composite sketch of the suspect as soon as possible. Nonetheless, neither Serpas, Mayor Mitch Landrieu nor Criminal Justice Commissioner James Carter mentioned Ainsworth’s arrests during a news conference Wednesday, when the killing was discussed.

Ainsworth pleaded guilty in November 2006 to third-offense marijuana possession.

Ainsworth was the victim of a high profile car-jacking incident early in the morning as he dropped his children off at an Algiers Point school. Ainsworth stepped in to help a woman who was the victim of a carjacking and was shot and killed by the would-be carjacker, who fled and is still being sought.


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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • Book

    Although I understand reason you’ve posted this. I’ll say that Despite Ainsworth’s past arrest & drug usage he still did something our of the kindness of his heart to save someone which that resulted in his death.

    Serpas is right, it does make the community talk and think, In a Negative way. which causes discomfort for the families and friends of the victims and makes it harder for citizens to actually want to work with NOPD.

  • Michelle

    Great reporting. Yet I wonder if the practice has miraculously stopped or will it begin again with the next violent crime no matter the circumstances surrounding it.

  • Shameful

    This is disgusting. Isn’t it possible to make a point without so offensively exploiting the tragedy of a victim? If it’s unethical or immoral for Serpas to report criminal records of victims, aren’t you guilty of the same?

  • Karen Gadbois, shame on you for dredging up two arrests on this victim. First, who cares if the victim smoked pot? I don’t. Do you? Second, how do you feel you just served the public interest by revealing this in your story? The man was doing the right thing, and he was murdered. And you, for some reason, feel justified in bringing up two arrests for victimless crimes, the most recent from six years ago. Bad reporting if ever I saw bad reporting. I’m disappointed in The Lens for printing this.

  • The Editor

    Shameful: It’s not our intent to exploit this man’s killing. We’re pointing out the uneven application of NOPD’s policy. To do that, first we had to determine whether the victim had a police record. Once we determined that, it would have been a disservice to our readers to say he had a police record, but not explain what was in that record. That would have left you wondering what his offenses were.

    Steve Beatty,
    Managing editor

  • CallASpadeASpade

    It’s career criminals like this that makes New Orleans unsafe. He’s not a good samaritan. He’s a drug dealing and using career criminal.

  • Deborah


    don’t shoot the messenger for showing the holding up this unethical policy to inspection. The policy and its author Supt Serpas is what’s wrong, not the investigative report that uncovers the double standard. Every other murder involving black men, Serpas has rattled of the arrest record same day, sometimes at the site of the murder. He sat on this a whole 24 hours, even going so far as to participate in a press conference and discuss the murder, and not hold to the same standard and policy of citing Ainsworth’s record.

    The policy is dead wrong for many reasons:
    1. The superintendent is citing arrest records, not convictions.

    2. the NOPD has a proven history of placing false charges on civilians so the records are not from a credible source and could very well be compromised.

    3. they are victims of murder. They’re not here to defend themselves and their families don’t deserve the extra heartache and inherent message of ‘he/she deserved what they got’.

    4. This policy creates a chilling effect, thereby creating more mistrust in a community that has a long history of non-cooperation with the NOPD in investigation. If Serpas was really more concerned with building relationship with the community where much of this violence is happening, rather than PR opps that cover his ass, he wouldn’t continue this outrageous policy.

    The public record is easy to pull if someone really wants to know. You don’t need to wait for him or the media to tell you about it. you just go here:

  • Deborah

    Paul Greenberg why don’t you get just as outraged at Supt Serpas and tsk tsk him for his policy that does the EXACT SAME THING to young black men at the scene of their murder. Did you get just as outraged when Serpas cited a 10 year old solicitation arrest charge for a woman who was murdered last month. Does she not warrant a keystroke of outrage from you? I’ll help you out by giving your Serpas email address so you can lodge the same equitable standard of outrage at his policy which created this sad dialogue we’re currently involved in.

  • jeffrey

    The Chief has been belittling murder victims by exploiting their arrest records. It’s an obvious PR stunt that, when questioned about, Serpas has claimed he engages in solely for statistical purposes. And yet here we have a case where it is not to the Chief’s benefit to publicly defame a man who, due to the circumstances of the murder, has the public’s sympathy. So he withholds this supposedly statistically important information.

    But the punch line is, if The Lens attempts to point out the inherent hypocrisy, they’re the ones who get slammed.

    Brilliant. Couldn’t have come up with better satire if I tried.

  • Cateyez

    Please! Why does it matter what he’s been arrested for??????? He was an innocent bystander trying to do something good. The issue of him being arrested for smoking pot has nothing to do with the fact that he was trying to help a female out that was in distress over some POS who thought it was ok to take something that didn’t belong to him!!! WAKE UP people!

  • Shawn

    I don’t know what kind of pig uses this God awful tragedy to make a rhetorical point. My nephew is a fireman who responded to the scene. He told me what he saw.

    The two children were crying hysterically beside their father in his blood. They had run to his side from the bus stop about 20 yards away. The woman who was the carjack victim was trying to compress the gunshot wounds with a towel. My nephew tried to chest compressions but the blood would just squirt out of the 4 gunshot wounds. The man died with eyes and mouth opened along side his hysterical children.

    I don’t know what raises a pig such as you the feels a need use this horrific cross racial slaughter as some type of example to make a point. How would you feel if white people had dragged a black guy to death and someone used such a horrific case to make a rhetorical point?

    I don’t know what raised you, but I sure as hell know they ruined you. You are one heartless soul.

  • Mac Coon

    Duh, Shawn and Cateyez, and others: read you comments; you’re both making the point: it isn’t productive, polite, considerate, charitable, sensitive, intelligent, or appropriate to publicize a murder victim’s arrest record, no matter the circumstances. Period.

  • Shawn

    The point I’m making is slapping a child in the face to prove that slapping a child in the face is wrong, is insane. Lets see, the writer feels that trying to out the foot soldiers of the gang wars that are killed is wrong. I’ll go with that. But the writer proves this by what? Taking a case that hasn’t a remote chance of being gang related, a besmirching the victim to extract some tit for tat justice. Well its not tit for tat. Its completely different. Its more like parading the records of the parents of Keria Holmes ( the two year old killed in crossfire) in the paper. That would outrage me. Why doesn’t this outrage you?

    Attempting to out gang soldiers is probably not a good idea. But this is completely outrageous. This is like revealing the arrest records of the parents of a murdered child. Its that unrelated and that outrageous. The writer didn’t accomplish tit for tat.

    She accomplished complete idiocy for tit. She accomplished utter cruelty. She basically slapped a child.

  • Shawn

    Is the Lens going to take a special interest in getting out the arrest record of the man killed in Hollygrove Thursday night, or do they only do that for white victims who are obviously trying to prevent a crime.

    You stepped in. Lets see if you appear consistent or racist.

  • Migou

    Wow. The lack of critical, logical, consistent thinking and analysis by some of the posters on this story is frightening.

    The Lens was *not* reporting on the criminal record of the victim – the Lens was reporting on the inconsistency of NOPD in publishing the criminal histories of murder victims and not reporting others.

    Let’s remember that although we know the basic circumstances of this victim’s murder, NOPD often mentions the arrest record of other victims mere hours after other murders, when the circumstances are still very unclear.

    NOPD needs to apply this policy evenly, or abolish it. And this incident strongly suggests it should be abolished.

  • Michael DeGeorge

    I agree with the Surpas policy of releasing criminal records of the victims but think a consistent policy should be put in place. I would propose releasing the full record for anyone who has recent arrests or convictions going back five years. If a victim of crime is a recent suspected criminal or convicted criminal that is relevant information that public has the right to know. If the victim has a clean record for the past five years it is likely that his/her past record has nothing to do with the current situation and the record should not be shared. Clearly Mr. Ainsworth’s convictions 20 years ago had nothing to due with this tradegy and his record should have been kept private.

  • david

    to be fair, nopd should also release info of nopd/da mishandling of prior cases of both victim and alleged killer—it’s often in the files. dirty secrets waiting to come to light.

  • Proves two points: Our drug laws are insane, and the NOPD’s current policy is inhumane. Don’t hate on The Lens for pointing out the insanity and inhumanity.

  • Claudia Kent

    I don’t care what point you were making here, its the means used to make that point that absolutely disgusts me. Mike was my neighbor. He loved his boys. I totally agree with Shawn. Shame on you, Lens

  • Lurana

    Personally I do want to know about the “VIOLENT” criminal records of the “victims” in these shootings. It is a very screwed up society of people that use guns as a solution to get what they want. If they are black, white, pink orange or red doesn’t matter. The low blow this article deals is shameful to me. A repeat offender for pot possession is hardly a person I would be concerned about and the revealing of a double standard to to make your point is disappointing to me. Let this guy’s family grieve and slap yourself for thinking you are informing us of something we need to know….cheesy journalism….

  • TJ

    Where were all these people when NOPD falsely implied that Joseph Evans and his son had arrest records and that they were shot because of an argument over infidelities, when neither had a record and the father and son were shot by the neighbor’s crazy boyfriend who was angry because the mom had asked his girlfriend not to use abusive language towards her daughters? FYI, the crime scene analysis later showed that the father died tryting to shield his son.

    Some of you need to look closely at yourselves and ask why you aren’t outraged when NOPD maligsn black murder victims, but are willling to wage race war when someone questions why NOPD doesn’t treat white victims the same way. Are white people more deserving of respect and consideration in your minds than black people?

    Yes, Mr. Ainsworth died trying to do help someone he didn’t know, but he would deserve to not have his memory slurred by NOPD even if he’d just been protecting his son like Joseph Evans, or was just someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When we start to label victims more or less deserving, we lose the concept of victimhood and in some respects erode our basic humanity.

  • justus

    Serpas is a veteran of the historically corrupt and anti-Black NOPD. His main concern is promoting white supremacy and demonizing Blacks, hence his attempt to cover up the past criminal record of this innocent white victim while blasting the past criminal records of Black murder victims’ innocent relatives who, like Mr. Ainsworth, may have also “turned their lives around.” Anyone who cannot see the discrimination here is either crazy, racist, or both. The Klan lives thru Serpas, NOPD, and other discriminators!

  • Shawn

    Anyone who thinks it ok to make this an example case to call out Serpas is a racist. If this hero was black, it wouldn’t have been used as an example. This case was used only because the victim was white and the bigoted sentiment that whites are treated as privileged and therefore open game. And that what makes using this very rare cross racial murder as some type of example, racist.

    You didn’t fool anyone. Your racist motivation is clear.

  • Karen, thank you for this story. I also noticed the lack of any reference to his arrest record by Serpas, Landrieu, and other media outlets.

    Shawn, white privilege is not a mere bigoted sentiment, it’s an ugly truth, just like the ugly truth that it’s usually black males committing the murders here. This case was used because this is the first departure from releasing arrest records since Serpas defended the practice a few weeks ago. The article made no mention of race. Pointing out discrepancies is not racist.

    For those who think this article is insensitive, where is the outrage for other grieving families whose murdered relatives’ marijuana arrest records are released within hours of the murder? Direct your outrage to Serpas, not to The Lens or to Karen!

  • Shawn

    White privilege is a racist stereotype just like black laziness. Just because you call it an “ugly truth” doesn’t elevate it above an ugly stereotype.
    Take a walk down the street and ask some of those white homeless people where their “white privilege” is.

    And your assumption that no one who is disgusted by this insensitive article is not disturbed by the policy of besmirching black murder victims, is again another racist stereotype manufactured by you. Has they trotted out Curtis Matthews arrest record, I have been just a livid.

    Serpas isn’t responsible for this article. Karen Gadbois is responsible this article and the racist undertone is apparent.

    Had this hero been black, this story would not have been written. I know it, and Karen knows it.

  • migou

    The body is still warm and yet NOPD has already released the victim’s arrest record.

    For all we know, this guy was standing next to the wrong person at the wrong time, or was mistaken for someone else, or was trying to break up a disturbance.

    Serpas, stop this abusive, hurtful, and meaningless practice.

  • Bro Keith “X” Hudson

    Lest we forget, Algiers Point is the same racist area of the city that shot Africans during Katrina, and bragged about it to A.C. Thompson, who revealed for the world the hidden Racist Wars!! And now this same area is asking for sympathy from the public after a crack-head handy-man for the 8th District gets killed for being an idiot!! But, because he’s white, and from Jackie Clarkson’s home turf, he’s a hero! He’s a criminal, that Serpas didn’t broadcast as he does for Africans, This is bias/prejudice/racist and every other violative practices being upheld by the white klan society. If the Lens didn’t do it I shall would have!

  • Shawn

    Yes, and the last time The Times Picayune reported the arrest record of the victim was the last time the victim was white. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?
    I guess that is coincidence since most murder victims are white. Oh, wait. Hmm maybe its odd. Maybe its racist.

  • Shawn

    In 4 days 7 people have been killed in New Orleans.
    Of those, six of the seven were African-American. The Times Picayune and The Lens reported on the arrest record of only one of those murder victims. They reported on the arrest record of the single white victim. It would take quite an imagination to attribute that to coincidence and not racism.

  • Michael

    Shawn is right. Shame on you, Karen Gadbois and The Lens. I used to respect your stories, but no longer.

  • They didn’t report the records of subsequent victims because of the attention given to the policy by this article, a policy decried by for more people than the Lens. In fact, it was criticized before a white person was killed, but wasn’t ended until one was. Maybe that’s not white privilege, but it is an interesting co-occurrence of events.

    Also, just because I am not lazy doesn’t mean the stereotype of black laziness doesn’t exist. Just because a white person is homeless doesn’t mean white privilege doesn’t exist.

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