NOPD Chief vents over actions leading up to officer's murder

NOPD Chief vents over actions leading up to officer's murder

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - One officer is suspended for mishandling evidence and another is under investigation for her possible role in the escape of accused cop killer Travis Boys, who is now in custody.

It's a combination of issues that has police Chief Michael Harrison saying he's "beyond disgusted."

Tuesday's news conference was one that no police chief wants to conduct.

"It's far past disgust," Harrison said. "I'm pissed off. I represent many officers who share that disgust, as well."

Harrison laid out several factors that were uncovered in the ongoing Public Integrity Bureau investigation into what led up to the June 19 murder of Officer Daryle Holloway, and the Monday arrest of Officer Wardell Johnson, who has since bonded out of jail.

"When confronted with the evidence, Johnson could not tell us what he did with the bullets and why he did what he did at that time," Harrison said.

Harrison said that when Johnson and another officer responded to a report of an aggravated assault at Travis Boys' home on Peace Court, police body cam images revealed that Johnson ignored a .40-caliber shell casing on the scene until a supervisor stepped in. Harrison also said Johnson did a poor job of searching Boys before he was arrested.

"I can tell you now it was not thorough or consistent with our training," Harrison said.

Police say Holloway was killed with a .40-caliber slug from a weapon that Boys allegedly carried with him into the car after his arrest on Peace Court.

"It's an eye-opening experience for all of us, but this is isolated," Harrison said.

Harrison said Johnson isn't the only officer under scrutiny. He said Officer Jeardine Sparks is also being investigated for her possible role in Travis Boys' escape.

Sources say PIB investigators have questioned Sparks about a home she owns on North Derbigny Street near the murder scene and her son's possible involvement in Boys' escape.

"She's out on sick leave at this moment, but until we find evidence, she's still an active police officer," said NOPD Deputy Superintendent Arlinda Westbrook.

Harrison hopes this incident can provide a lesson that will save other officers in the future.

"Every member of the police department is dedicated," Harrison said. "We all want to go home at the end of the night, too."

And he promises to follow the investigation wherever it leads.

Body cam video has been instrumental in the investigation so far.  Police officials say they are still going over much of it as they continue to examine the events leading up to - and after - the murder of Officer Holloway.

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