Deputy constable who ‘didn’t move’ suspended amid investigation into French Quarter rape response
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A deputy constable has been suspended amid an investigation into an alleged rape in the French Quarter that has gained national attention following a series of viral tweets from a witness.
New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson held a press conference Thursday (Aug. 11) to clear up any confusion about his officers’ role in responding to the 911 calls that night.
The 911 recording obtained by FOX 8 details the moments the woman reported the rape at the corner of Toulouse and Royal streets just after 11 p.m. on July 26. She is heard telling a dispatcher she saw what she believed to be an NOPD officer a block away, not responding to the scene of a man having sex with an unconscious woman.
According to officials, the witness placed the call at 11:19 p.m. The dispatcher entered the call into the system at 11:21 p.m. Ferguson says the first responding officer arrived three minutes later.
Over the next three minutes of the call, the woman said the person she believed was an NOPD officer didn’t budge. She also said two officers drove by and shined their lights on the scene without stopping. The caller became increasingly upset.
“It’s super traumatic. This officer hasn’t even moved and these two police officers just drove past, shined their headlights right on her, and just continued to drive,” she says.
Ferguson says the man she approached was not an NOPD officer, but a Second City Court deputy constable.
Edwin Shorty, the Constable of Second City Court, says the uniformed deputy was working a paid detail for a movie shoot nearby and has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
“I do not think the complainant was being malicious towards the New Orleans Police Department. She thought she was speaking to a police officer. Unfortunately, some of our uniforms are similar in nature,” Ferguson said. “She was not speaking to a police officer at that time.”
“At no time did an NOPD officer refuse assistance, fail to respond, or fail to take police action on reported sexual assaults,” he continued. “We take any and all allegations seriously.”
Ferguson says a vehicle did drive by the scene but in reviewing evidence collected, “we could not prove or disprove that the officer could actually see that something was going on at that intersection.” He says nobody flagged the unit down or attempted to get the officer’s attention.
In the 911 recording, the witness breaks down when she realizes the suspected rapist has fled.
“He’s gone and this cop is still a block away and this girl just got raped on a street corner, literally raped on a street corner, as the cops drove right past her,” the caller said.
Police say the victim regained consciousness and was initially not cooperating with investigators, but Ferguson would not say if that has changed due to the ongoing investigation.
“Our detectives have done a phenomenal job in following up on investigations in which they are receiving cooperation,” Ferguson said. “There should be no hesitation in contacting our law enforcement agencies, specifically NOPD, to investigate cases such as this.”
Ferguson says the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau’s investigation into how officers responded to the rape has since been closed upon learning that the individual was a deputy constable.
Anyone with information that may help the NOPD identify or locate the person responsible is asked to call 911 or Crime Stoppers.
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