NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - One day after the arrest of a woman in connection with a chase that led to the shooting of her boyfriend by Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies, the FBI confirmed that the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney have opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.
The agency released the following statement Thursday:
"The FBI New Orleans Division's Greater New Orleans Civil Rights Task Force (GNOCRTF), the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Criminal Section, and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana have opened a civil rights investigation into the incident involving Eric Harris in Central City on the evening of February 8, 2016. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. The GNOCRTF is currently a joint task force comprised of FBI Agents and Officers from the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau which was formalized in November 2014. This is the process we have used in all officer involved shootings since its inception. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time."
The incident began Feb. 8 at Oakwood Mall, where three women told a deputy working a security detail that Harris had brandished a gun at them. When the deputy tried to question him, Harris allegedly fled on foot into the parking lot, where he jumped into a car with his girlfriend, Tyshara Blouin. JP investigators said the couple led deputies on a chase across the Crescent City Connection into Orleans Parish. Harris crashed the car in the 2200 block of St. Philip Street.
At this point, deputies Henry Dejean and Kenneth Bonura said Harris put the car in reverse and they opened fire, fearing for their lives. Blouin, however, has said that after the crash, Harris asked her if she was alright and then deputies began shooting. She said Harris never put the car in reverse.
Blouin was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on Wednesday with one count each of accessory after the fact to aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Investigators with both JPSO and NOPD confirmed that a gun was recovered from the car Harris was driving. JPSO has additionally said that a small amount of heroin was also found.