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Fraternal Order of Police calls for head of PIB to resign

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The Fraternal Order of Police on Wednesday called for the resignation of the head of the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau.

PIB Chief Arlinda Westbrook is investigating the death of a suspect by Jefferson Parish Deputies. Concerned citizens seeking justice for Eric Harris organized a community forum Tuesday night. We obtained the video from our partners at | The Times-Picayune.

The organizers are demanding prosecution of the JP deputies who pursued Harris across parish lines last month after he allegedly waved a gun at three women at Oakwood Shopping Center. The chase ended when Harris crashed his car in Central City.

Sheriff Newell Normand said his deputies opened fire on the car, killing Harris, once they saw the reverse lights on the car come on.

The NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau, along with the FBI, is investigating the incident.

Westbrook spoke to the crowd at Tuesday night’s forum. The NOPD said Westbrook attended as part of the department’s ongoing commitment to conduct open and transparent investigations. Video shows that toward the end of the meeting, Westbrook became surrounded by Harris’ family. A family member asks Westbrook: “What if your police would have shot him?” Westbrook responds: “If that was our police officer, because it is so contrary to our policy, they would have been arrested on the spot.”

Her response has one police watchdog very concerned.

“I think it was inaccurate. I think it was inflammatory, and I think it did a disservice to the ongoing investigation,” Metropolitan Crime Commission head  Rafael Goyeneche said.

The NOPD admits Westbrook incorrectly stated that an NOPD officer would have been arrested on the spot. The Department said she intended to convey that NOPD’s policy differs from JPSO’s policy on the matter of moving vehicles and use of force.

“I’m not aware of any officers that have been arrested at the scene of a shooting by the New Orleans Police Department - even post-consent decree - because there’s an investigation that needs to be conducted,” Goyeneche said.

Goyeneche said in this case, Westbrook discussed an open investigation.

“Not only did she, I think, step out of her lane with respect to making a statement, she made an incorrect statement,” Goyeneche said.

Goyeneche said while the two use-of-force policies are different, they aren’t relevant when determining if a crime was committed.

We reached out to the NOPD to find out if Chief Michael Harrison will launch an investigation into the actions of Westbrook. We were told no. The NOPD said Harrison has spoken to Westbrook, and she acknowledged her mistake.

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