Vigorous appeal promised as beating video victim speaks out - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Vigorous appeal promised as Canal St. beating video victim speaks out

Updated:
A still image from the fight video A still image from the fight video
New Orleans, La. -

One of the women involved in a Canal Street fight, captured in a video that's gone viral, says she's glad a police officer has been suspended for allegedly not doing enough to stop the fight. The attorney for the officer takes issue with the allegations and plans to appeal the suspension.

It's an incident that many say did not have to escalate, including the woman who got the worst of the fight.

"I think he should have done more," she said, "more than what he was doing."

The woman said NOPD Officer Cortez Hankton and another officer got out of their car while patrolling Canal Street, about a minute after the fight began.

FOX 8 asked her if she requested Ofc. Hankton to do more. "I didn't have to, he was right there when this all happened," she said.

According to her, her boyfriend and another man began fighting. At some point she and the other man's sister were also drawn into the brawl.

"What he is doing?" wondered Tulane criminologist Peter Scharf as he watched the YouTube video, which has gotten over 60,000 hits. "Is he monitoring the scene or is he just passive? But it's sure ugly."

The victim said her injuries were serious, noting bruises all over her body and a knot on her forehead. She said she required hospitalization for several days after the fight.

The woman also said she and her boyfriend were arrested after the fight, but Ofc. Hankton never showed up in court and the charges were dropped.

"If he had done his job, none of this would have happened," she said.

Hankton's attorney says he will appeal the officer's suspension.

"He's incredibly disappointed by this. He plans to put on a vigorous defense," said Raymond Burkart III.

Burkart said the officer was doing his job and awaiting backup, a statement disputed by NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

It's a case that's a concern to people involved in officer training.

"There may be some confusion among police officers that needs to be clarified. Somehow he thought he had to wait for backup," said Mary Claire Landry, a police training expert with the Family Justice Center.

There are accounts of similar brawls happening at least once or twice a week on Canal Street, and Landry says it's important for officers to respond correctly.

"Those situations are going to escalate there's no doubt about it, if you don't de-escalate that... you really have to take action and separate the parties," Landry told FOX 8.

Dr. Scharf says it's not clear whether Ofc. Hankton acted improperly. "It's embarrassing but was it beyond the standard? So reasonable tactics, that's the question," said Scharf.

It's an issue that will likely be decided by Civil Service, once the suspension appeal is filed.

Some believe pepper spray might have helped defuse the fight. But the consent decree dictated that NOPD quit using it.

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