Police attorney: Drunk prisoner initiated physical altercation which led to NOPD firings

Police attorney: Drunk prisoner initiated physical altercation which led to NOPD firings

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - An attorney who represents NOPD officers fired Wednesday says the department got it wrong.

"I think it sets a bad precedent for police officers, and it sends a terrible message to officers," Fraternal Order of Police attorney Donovan Livicarri said.

Wednesday afternoon, NOPD announced officers Alfred Moran, Lewis Simmons and Christopher Jennings are off the force and Officer Jeffery Tyler is suspended for five days without pay.

According to a Public Integrity Bureau investigation, on September 30, 2015, Moran struck a handcuffed prisoner while the prisoner was seated on a bench inside the NOPD's French Quarter station on Royal Street.

The prisoner was arrested for public intoxication, and investigators say at some time while officers completed paperwork, the prisoner and Moran got into a verbal argument that turned physical.

Officer Moran was the only one to strike the prisoner, according to reports, but investigators say the three other officers saw Moran strike the prisoner and failed to report it to supervisors.

A complaint was made to the PIB the following day.

"I expect our officers to follow the law, to follow our policies and our training and to be honest. I am extremely disappointed that these officers did not perform to our standards. Today's decision demonstrates that the NOPD is committed to ethical and constitutional policing and that we will not tolerate anything less," NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said in a press release.

Livicarri said officer Jennings did not actually see what happened and that's why he didn't report it. The attorney also says Moran acted in self-defense to a belligerent prisoner.

"It's clear from the video that the arrested subject kicked the officer. Officer Moran reacted to being kicked, and immediately following that, officer Moran felt as though the arrested subject was trying to bite or spit at him. So he took an action to try and avoid that," Livicarri said.

Officer Moran only pushed the prisoner's face with the back of his hand, according to Livicarri.

The NOPD claims body cam and surveillance video captured the entire ordeal, but Livicarri says it does not catch the context of what happened

"I think that there were a number of assumptions made based solely on the video evidence," Livicarri said. "The police department and the Public Integrity Bureau placed too much weight on the video evidence and I think that it was a mistake to discount the testimonial evidence provided by the officers."

NOPD officials with the department tell FOX 8 video could not be released Wednesday.

Livicarri said both officers Moran and Jennings plan to appeal the decision. No word if the other officers plan to do so as well. 

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