Ex-Orleans 911 director should face criminal charges in alleged car crash cover-up, Inspector General says

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 3:14 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the former executive director of the Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) should face criminal charges for how he handled a crash in a publicly funded vehicle and an alleged cover-up.

The incident in question happened in May when Tyrell Morris was involved in a crash while driving his city-owned SUV. After allegedly exchanging information with the other driver, Morris left the scene. He did not take a drug or alcohol test after the crash.

In a 100-plus-page report released Thursday (Nov. 16), Inspector General Ed Michel says Morris may have altered and deleted city documents after the crash and filed a false insurance claim.

“Many of the things we thought had been happening and that the media had been reporting on, I mean he pretty much just said yes, these are the things that he had found,” City Council Vice President Helena Moreno said.

OPCD’s policy requires employees involved in a crash in an agency vehicle to undergo drug and alcohol testing.

When FOX 8 asked attorneys for the OPCD for a copy of the policy, we were provided two documents, both dated May of 2019. One of documents had a lower standard required for drug and alcohol testing.

Under “accident procedures,” one of the documents says, “The operator of the OPCD vehicle must take a drug and alcohol test as soon as possible.” The other copy we were provided, has four extra words added; “If injuries are reported, the operator of the OPCD vehicle must take a drug and alcohol test as soon as possible.”

The OIG’s investigation also found that the crash report did not include Morris’ failure to adhere to the submission of a drug and alcohol test.

Michel says that Morris violated city policy. His office has referred the matter to the district attorney’s office for criminal prosecution.

See also: New dispatch audio reveals moments after 911 chief’s car accident

Some members of the New Orleans City Council called for Morris to step down in the spring. He officially resigned in July after six years on the job.

The OIG recommends the OPCD should establish a review process for the policies to ensure they are complete and not revised without an approval process.

Michel’s office also suggests the OPCD policies on vehicle accidents should more closely mirror the city’s policy.

OPDC released a statement saying:

Orleans Parish Communication District Interim Executive Director Karl Fasold is issuing no comment on behalf of OPCD with respect to the recent release of the OIG Report of Investigation of Vehicle Accident of Orleans Parish Communication District Director May 7, 2023,  specifically with reference to former director Tyrell Morris. Morris has ceased to be employed by OPCD as of July 10th, 2023.

With respect to the OIG’s recommendations for the agency, Fasold’s administration will continue to focus on its new direction for the agency through consistent collaboration with the OIG to ensure agency best practices are met. As of November 1st, and reported to the city council, all policies have been reviewed and revised as necessary by an internal policy working group, consisting of all the Department Leads and the Deputy Executive Director, and are in their final implementation process. All policies will be reviewed by the group annually with Human Resources and OPCD legal counsel as well as all reviewed by an outside party.

The OPCD vehicle policy has reverted to its original version, effectively matching the vehicle policy for the City of New Orleans. All policy revisions will be made as a collective effort of the policy working group, with the continuation of PowerDMS as the repository, providing the tracking and sign-off of employees in real time, as revisions are made.

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