‘We lost a good one’
Police chief, city leaders mourn off-duty NOPD detective murdered in Houston
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Shaken by the senselessness of the killing and struggling with its emotional weight, grief-stricken New Orleans city leaders on Sunday (Aug. 22) pleaded anew for an end to gun violence in the wake of an off-duty NOPD detective’s weekend murder in Houston.
“This cancer of senseless violence has to stop,” New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks tearfully pleaded at a news conference addressing the death of popular 13-year veteran officer Everett Briscoe. “No other family should have to go through this. But what about the one yesterday, or the day before, or the one next week?”
“We keep doing this and I don’t know how to stop it. But I wish someone would tell me.”
NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell expressed similar sentiments while describing their heart-wrenching visits to Briscoe’s newly widowed wife and two sons.
“As a chief, you try to prepare yourself for that dark day which you never want to see, when you have to inform a family of the loss of their loved one in the line of duty due to senseless violence,” Ferguson said. “But to have to inform a wife and two sons that their husband and father would not be returning home -- due to senseless violence while off-duty -- is even more difficult.”
Briscoe’s colleagues on the police force, as well as his bereaved fellow members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club which included Banks, struggled with the injustice of the death. It was hard to comprehend that someone who fought crime in New Orleans since 2008 would meet his end on the sun-splashed patio of a Texas restaurant during a weekend getaway with friends.
But Houston police said Briscoe and another New Orleans man were shot Saturday around 5:17 p.m. in just that scenario, as they dined outside with friends at the Grotto Ristorante, a half-mile from Houston’s Galleria shopping center. Houston police chief Troy Finner said the group was approached by two gunmen wearing hoodies in the Texas summer heat who pointed weapons and tried to rob the visitors of their belongings.
Finner said that even though the group complied with the gunmen’s demands, one assailant shot two men anyway. Briscoe was fatally wounded at the scene, while the second man was hospitalized in critical condition. Authorities have not updated his condition since Saturday, and no arrests had been made in the case as of mid-afternoon Sunday.
Funeral arrangements for Briscoe had not been finalized, Ferguson said. But he ordered flags flown at half-staff at NOPD stations until the officer is returned to New Orleans and buried. He said officers throughout the department were wearing black mourning bands across their badges.
Ferguson hailed Briscoe as a selfless friend and officer, someone who not only helped haul and set up a portable generator at Ferguson’s house after hurricane damage, but who also enjoyed working with children and civic leaders to enhance the department’s community policing and outreach efforts.
“He did everything you could to bring the community together,” Ferguson said. “We lost a good one.”
Cantrell said, “The City of New Orleans is in mourning. The New Orleans Police Department is in mourning. And we are mourning with the Briscoe family. ... We will be sure that Mrs. Briscoe and her boys feel the love of this city and the love of this department for years to come.”
The sons Briscoe leaves behind are 16 and 10 years old.
Zulu members later gathered for an afternoon prayer vigil outside their Broad Street club house. Banks described Briscoe as “a gem,” who enjoyed helping others both as a police officer and as a Zulu brother.
“He loved this community,” Banks said, “and he did everything he could to make it better.”
Briscoe marched years earlier in the Southern University band. After joining the NOPD in 2008, his assignments included stints in the First District patrolling Treme and parts of Mid-City, detective assignments in both the Homicide and Narcotics divisions, and a return to the First District where he most recently investigated cases of violent crime.
His trip to Texas, Ferguson said, was supposed to be nothing more than a chance to blow off some steam with friends before returning to the pressures of crimefighting in New Orleans.
“He was just getting some much needed rest and relaxation,” Ferguson said, shaking his head in disbelief.
Banks’ frustration at the loss of his friend was evident, as the councilman struggled with his composure and tears flowed at the podium.
“We’ve got to figure out how to stop this, y’all,” Banks said. “It makes no sense for this much pain and grief to be continuous.
“This has to stop.”
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