Family describes pain 1 year after HANO officer is slain in line of duty

Family describes pain 1 year after HANO officer is slain in line of duty
Published: May. 24, 2016 at 11:51 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Exactly one year ago, someone gunned down a Housing Authority of New Orleans police officer.

"People out there have a heart, please come forward, do good deed, that's all I'm asking," said the victim's mother, Chung Bennett.

There are more questions than answers about the murder of HANO Officer James Bennett Jr.

"Just wondering, you know? Why is it my son?" Chung asks.

On May 24, 2015, someone shot the 45-year-old to death as he patrolled a construction site in his cruiser. The NOPD never made an arrest in what they called an ambush attack, except for that of 18-year-old Charles Garner. He was arrested earlier this month after he was found in possession of Bennett's gun. He's not charged with the murder.

"The unsolved crime just adds another layer of frustration and anxiety and stress for the family," said Silence is Violence executive Director Tamara Jackson.

Jackson said the pain the Bennett family feels is all too common in New Orleans.

"That just speaks to the volume of crime that exists in this city and the extent people will go to keep things a secret," Jackson said.

This week, Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign a bill that expands the state's hate crime laws to protect first responders, meaning anyone who targets police, firefighters or emergency medical crews because of their jobs will face much stiffer penalties. It's a law the Bennett family fully supports, believing it may be a measure to spare another family from the unbearable pain they're living though.

"When children need help, desperate help, parents have got to be help, be there for help. But my son was in desperate need of help, I couldn't be there. I couldn't be there to help him," Chung said tearfully.

The Bennett family met with the NOPD on Tuesday as a new detective is taking over the murder investigation. We're told the case is still open, active and ongoing.

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