NOPD chief 'disgusted, appalled' by arrested officer's conduct

NOPD Chief Michael Harrison addresses officer's arrest

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The officer who initially arrested accused cop killer Travis Boys for domestic assault has himself been arrested by the Public Integrity Bureau.

NOPD Officer Wardell Johnson has been arrested and placed on emergency suspension,

Johnson is a 12-year veteran of the NOPD, most recently assigned to the Fifth Police District. He, along with Officer Ryan Morgan, arrested Boys on June 20 following a report of domestic assault. Morgan is not facing charges.

Following his arrest, Boys was turned over to Officer Daryle Holloway for transport to prison. During his transport, the suspect allegedly shot and killed Holloway and escaped custody.

Superintendent Michael Harrison said there is no evidence to believe that Johnson knew Boys would shoot and kill Holloway. He accused Johnson of "sloppy police work."

"I'm a 24-year veteran. I cannot tell you how frustrated and appalled I am," Harrison said Tuesday during a press conference. "I'm not just disgusted, I'm quite pissed off."

During the course of the investigation, detectives interviewed both Johnson and Morgan about their roles in the initial arrest of Boys.

Based on the PIB interview and review of footage from both officers' body cameras, detectives say they learned that Johnson deliberately attempted to leave a .40-caliber casing on the scene of the reported domestic assault and did not process it for evidence. In addition, detectives say that Johnson recovered a box of unused .40-caliber bullets at the scene and did not process it as evidence in the investigation.

"What we saw was not excellent police work and I don't know what would make an officer perform that way," said Harrison.

Johnson allegedly told detectives he did not remember where he left the box of bullets and was not able to confirm why he chose not to report the box of bullets as evidence.

Shortly after the interview, detectives say they saw Johnson removing the box of bullets from his vehicle and throwing them out of the window while driving near Morrison and Downman Road. In a follow-up interview on Monday, Johnson admitted to throwing the box of bullets out of his window, police say.

Based on the evidence, PIB arrested Johnson on one count of obstruction of justice, one count of malfeasance in office and one count of theft. All charges are criminal, and additional administrative charges may be forthcoming based on the ongoing investigation.

Johnson's bond has been set at $30,000.

The investigation into how Boys obtained a gun and was able to escape custody is ongoing.

A second NOPD officer also may face charges.

Investigators questioned veteran officer Jeardine Daniels Sparks and her son about Boys' possible connection to a house that Sparks owns. Officers say they are looking into allegations that Sparks' son may have assisted Boys during his escape.

The house, located in the 2200 block of  N. Derbigny Street, is just a block and a half away from where Boys allegedly killed Holloway and making a daring, handcuffed escape from the caged backseat of the police car.

"Officer Sparks has not been cleared," Harrison added Tuesday. "That investigation is still on-going."

Sparks is out on sick leave but still an active police officer as PIB investigates her possible involvement.

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