Mayor Cantrell goes in-depth on her decision not to hire Warren Riley

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Days after Mayor Latoya Cantrell decided against hiring former NOPD Supt. Warren Riley as the city's Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security, FOX 8 News asked the mayor a number of questions about her decisions and the possible fallout.

Cantrell pointed to community concerns about Riley in reaching her decision.

"Sure the buck definitely stops with me, and I believe it did. Hearing concerns from the community, from the families, having a real understanding of trauma that people have experienced in our city post-Katrina - it's real. You can't make it up. Not just in relation to what happened on the bridge," Cantrell said.

In mentioning the bridge, Cantrell was referencing the deadly Danziger Bridge shootings by NOPD officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Riley became NOPD chief weeks after Katrina hit. Before that, he was Chief of Operations for the department.

Critics fault Riley for not reading the entire incident report on the shooting of citizens on the bridge who were fleeing floodwaters and the subsequent police cover-up.

For his part, Riley admitted he did not read the entire report and reiterated that in a statement released after Cantrell announced her decision.

But Riley said he received multiple briefings on the incident from the then-chief of detectives, and that the report was submitted to the D.A.'s office.
Eventually there were federal prosecutions of the officers involved. Riley was never implicated.

In his recent statement, Riley said: "At no time was I on the bridge. At no time did I have communications with officers during the incident. At no time did I give any orders related to actions that transpired on the bridge. At that time, I was directing rescue operations from [a] temporary police field office located at the Harrah's Casino."

Riley would not comment for this news report, but said his earlier statement of last week still stands. In it, he also said he was "deeply disappointed and the Mayor's reversal comes as a complete surprise."

Riley made public a letter signed by Cantrell offering him the job she eventually rescinded.

"People matter, and so I want to assure the people that I serve that they do come first, and trauma is real, and if I can do something about it, I will. And I had to do that as it relates to Mr. Warren Riley. That was not my intention on the front end," Cantrell said.

When asked whether she was concerned about possible litigation over her decision Cantrell said, "You know, I'm not concerned. My biggest concern was about the residents of the city and providing them with leadership that they can trust."

FOX 8 asked the mayor about suggestions by some that her statement surrounding the decision on Riley could possibly tarnish his reputation.

"Well, what I say to that is he definitely in my opinion was not unqualified to be the Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety. I think his track record has been demonstrated. However, again, listening to people and understanding the trauma that folks have really experienced in our city, I just found that it was best to have folks be able to trust leadership that is in place," she said.

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