NOPD officer suspended after video of fight emerges - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

NOPD officer suspended after video of fight emerges

New Orleans, La. - An NOPD officer faces charges of neglect of duty and failure to perform duty after Chief Ronal Serpas said he stood by and watched two women fight on Canal Street without getting involved. The entire incident was caught on video, which is now going viral.

Officer Cortez Hankton is suspended without pay because of his appearance in the video, which was posted to YouTube.

"No one can watch this two-plus minute film and believe that Officer Hankton did all that he could, including all that he could do physically to stop two citizens from pummeling one another," Serpas said.

As Hankton stands by watching, another man walks up and punches one of the women in the face twice. Hankton's attorney says because of the consent decree, officers are hesitant to use force.

"Officer Hankton is a big gentleman," said Raymond Burkart III. "These two women are a lot smaller than he is. He needs to try to use the least amount of force possible to contain the scene, cover his officer and call for backup and you will note, female officers were called to the scene to deal with the female perpetrators."

Serpas responded.

"That's about the most ridiculous and stupid thing I've ever heard, because we've only got about 15, 20 percent at best, female police officers on the entire Police Department," Serpas said. "That would offer then that we would wait for all fights until we could find wherever those two, or 15 percent are working that day. All police officers are trained to break up fights."

Serpas said it especially makes him angry that Hankton didn't appear to have his partner's back, as Officer John Dobard tried to break up another fight of two men just a few feet away.

"I have lost confidence at this time in his abilities to perform the duties necessary to protect the people of New Orleans and to protect fellow officers," Serpas said.

The department's Public Integrity Bureau has opened an investigation into the incident.

Burkart said Hankton did everything he could've during the fight, and now he's ready to tell investigators his side of the story.

"He's incredibly disappointed by this. He plans on putting on a vigorous defense of the charges lodged against him," Burkart said.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu weighed in on the issue, telling FOX 8 that he supports the chief's decision to suspend Hankton. He said he was troubled by Hankton's inaction during the fight.

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