GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Surveillance video released Wednesday by Gretna Police shows the moments before an officer and two suspects were wounded in a gun battle. We're also learning more information about the criminal history of the two men who were trying to sell heroin to undercover officers.
"Do I think the force that was used was justified? I certainly do," said Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson.
Lawson gave that reaction at a news conference Wednesday after viewing video of a shootout between members of the Westbank Major Crime Task Force and two men. "The officers responded procedurally without a problem and the quickness with which they were able to resolve this situation was tremendous," said Lawson.
The surveillance video taken from a nearby business shows the two suspects, identified by police as Darrin Jones and Darryl Johnson, trying to run over an officer after members of the task force boxed-in their black Infiniti. Police say the men were trying to sell heroin. A gun fight ensued. One officer was hit by a bullet in his tactical gear and suffered other injuries. Both Jones and Johnson were wounded.
Police say Jones had just gotten out of prison after pleading guilty in 2010 to two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana with the Gretna Police Department said, "He was rolled out in March of 2014, and here we are today with an officer that's been shot."
Jones only served three years of a nine-year sentence. He was released early for good behavior.
Johnson also has a checkered past. Christiana explains, "Dangerous individual, multiple arrests for weapons violations as well as drug charges with convictions."
While questions abound about why these two men were still on the streets, Christiana said it's something he sees far too often and is the sobering reality of a criminal justice system riddled with flaws. "Ninety-nine percent of officers are out there giving it their all only to be combated with another pressure on the street because somewhere along the way, the system is broken down, or deals are made to clear a docket," Christiana said.
Now, both Johnson and Jones will face felony charges as a result of Tuesday's shooting. Jones is being held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center. Johnson remains in critical condition at a hospital.
The officer injured in the shooting has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Investigators recovered a semi-automatic handgun and 35 packets of heroin from the suspect's vehicle.