NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson on Friday released bodycam footage of an officer-involved shooting in New Orleans East.
Ferguson says he has concerns about the footage and says there were “administrative violations.”
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The shooting occurred on March 10 in the 4300 block of Werner Drive.
According to NOPD, an officer noticed a suspicious vehicle parked at the location around 9:30 a.m. with two men sitting inside.
In the video, two officers, Isiah Shannon and Markus Caldwell, are seen approaching the vehicle. Caldwell approaches the driver’s side. Shannon approached the passenger with his gun drawn behind his back.
Caldwell tells the driver he’s parked on the wrong side of the road, facing the wrong way.
Shannon asks the passenger, Anthony Cowart, if the two have been smoking and says he smelled marijuana.
At the same time, a witness crossing the street is heard saying “he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun.”
Officer Shannon asks both men to get out of the car. They comply. While Caldwell begins detaining the driver, Cowart tries to run past Shannon.
Officer Shannon grabs Cowart with his left hand, still holding his pistol in his right hand.
The two begin to struggle. Cowart swings his arms at the officer, trying to get away. During the struggle, Shannon struck Cowart with his gun, causing the magazine to fall out. The officer’s weapon, out of the frame of the video, then discharges a bullet still in the chamber, striking Cowart in the leg.
“My son deserves better. My family deserves better,” Cowart’s mother said in a statement provided to Fox 8. “This police officer had no business patrolling the streets of this city with a gun. He was fired once and he should never had been put back on the street. My son lives in America and is very aware of recent police killings of young black men. He sensed danger and tried to get away from it.”
“This officer shot my son like a dog and proceeded to beat him for no reason. My son could be dead,” the statement continues. “This abuse has to stop. For my son and the next young man who may not be so lucky. We cannot function as a community with this terror being inflicted on young black men every day. They grow up afraid and harassed when they should grow up supported and uplifted. We need accountability for what has happened here before we can begin healing.”
Cowart’s attorney, John Adcock, says police must explain why this occurred.
“There must be a full investigation into why this officer was allowed to return to patrol and carry a gun given what the NOPD knew about his history. The NOPD must explain why this occurred. The citizens of New Orleans are entitled to feel safe when they come in contact with a police officer,” Adcock says.
Ferguson says it is unclear whether Shannon intentionally fired the bullet or not.
The man was transported to a local hospital for treatment, then into custody, charged with resisting arrest and illegal drug possession.
At his bail hearing the next day, a judge ruled there was no probable cause for the arrest and the man was released.
In a press conference on Friday, Ferguson asked for the driver to come forward, assuring him there would be no charges filed against him.
An investigation is underway involving Officer Shannon’s actions.
“We need help providing context to what occurred,” Ferguson said. “We are asking you to come as a witness. We encourage you to come with your attorney.”
Caldwell is expected to return to normal patrol duties. Shannon is on desk duty indefinitely. Ferguson says Shannon will likely provide a statement to investigators soon.
The release of the video is part of the NOPD’s pledge to be more transparent by releasing videos in a timely manner after the incident.
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