NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Prosecutors on Tuesday said the first man named by police as a suspect in the Bunny Friend playground shooting no longer faces charges. That's because video proves he wasn't in New Orleans at the time of the shooting.
Surveillance video shows 32-year-old Joseph Allen shopping in Texas with his pregnant wife on Nov. 22, the day 17 people were shot at Bunny Friend Playground.
Outside Criminal Court Tuesday afternoon, Allen's mother, Deborah, said she felt vindicated.
"When I told y'all my son wasn't there, plenty of people thought I was lying to protect him," she said. "He was not there."
Allen's mother maintained her son's innocence as police named him the first of several suspected gunmen in the mass shooting. Deborah Allen even carried a television monitor into court to help prove her case while Allen's attorney put together the pieces of the puzzle.
"I said where's the proof? He handed me a stack of receipts. I said where's the video? Let's go get it," said attorney Kevin Boshea.
Hundreds had gathered at Bunny Friend for a block party when the shooting took place. Police said only one eyewitness put Allen on the scene.
"You have 300 people involved and one person makes an ID. That's skeptical to begin with," Boshea said.
FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti explains, "Police don't go looking to help you get out of jail. They look to try to put you in jail. It's your defense attorney or burden to get you out, and that's what they did."
Allen's attorney said he told the district attorney's office about the video evidence immediately, but it took him five days to get it. Tuesday afternoon at what was to be Allen's probable cause hearing, the state announced it was dropping the 17 attempted murder charges Allen faced.
"I'm relieved because he'll be home when I have the baby," said Allen's wife, Valencia.
Allen's attorney says this case should serve as a cautionary tale.
"We all want to get the people responsible for this, this is a heinous offense. But the important thing is to get the right person. Misidentification cases happen all the time, unfortunately," Boshea said.
Despite having the charges against him dropped, Joseph Allen remains behind bars on a parole hold. His attorney said it's based on an issue in Texas that he'll address in the next 72 hours.