Police face misconduct allegations over Carnival incident

Published: Feb. 14, 2013 at 3:29 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 at 3:56 AM CST
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A still image from the surveillance video
A still image from the surveillance video

New Orleans, La. - 17-year-old Sidney Newman and 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt say they were hanging out together in the 700 block of Conti Sunday night after going to a parade.

Hunt's mother, an 8th District NOPD officer, was working nearby.  The young men say Hunt's mother had gone to grab them something to eat.

Surveillance video obtained by FOX 8 shows Hunt leaning up against the building while Newman sat next to him.

"We were just sitting there laughing and out of nowhere, I saw two guys grab Ferd," says Newman.

"All of a sudden, I'm on the wall. A whole bunch of people just came up and threw me up against the wall," says Hunt.

Those people were plain clothes law enforcement officers, nine of them State Troopers and one NOPD officer.  The two young men were taken down to the ground.

"I was scared. I didn't know what was happening. I thought they were trying to rob us," says Hunt.

"At that point another guy came up and grabbed me by my hair and he was on top of me. At the same time, I'm calling, 'Ferd.'  I'm asking Ferd, 'Where's your mother?'" says Newman.

Hunt's mother does approach and the two young men are allowed to get up.  Not long after releasing the two men, the plain clothes officers simply walked away.

"Why take a child or a young man that's 130 pounds and sling him across? Why not just walk up to him and say, 'What are you doing? What's your name or why are you here?' That's a human being" says Sidney's mother, Hazel Newman.  "I would hate to think that it was because these boys were young black boys. I would hate to think that."

State Police say any allegations of racial profiling are absurd.

The troopers were part of the Mardi Gras plain clothes detail. They say they were looking for juvenile violations, illegal weapons and narcotic activity at the time.

While on patrol, State Police say they noticed two individuals who appeared to be juveniles and decided to ID them.  The troopers say they had detained both of them when they were approached by an NOPD officer who was interfering with the investigation and claiming it was her son.

They say the troopers verified the identification of the two young men and turned them over to the NOPD officer.  LSP spokeswoman Melissa Matey said Thursday that the agency continues to investigate the incident.

"This was Mardi Gras time, so you're going to sling a kid rather than walk up and talk to them? That is incredible," says Newman.

NOPD says the commander of the 8th District did see the video and, as it relates to the action of the NOPD officer, there were no obvious violations of misconduct.

The NAACP wants federal and state agencies to look into the case, claiming it shows racial profiling.  And the two boys and their parents met with FBI officials Thursday, asking them to conduct a probe.  The FBI hasn't said whether they'll do so, but did tell the families they would be back in touch.