Lead Poisoning, New Orleans Style

Apr 18, 2008 by

So I get home after a week on assignment in Vegas and about an hour after I walk in the door I hear these bursts of gunfire, automatic or semi automatic not sure which. Despite living in New Orleans I then second guessed myself, “could it have been several strings of firecrackers?” Even as I thought that I was pulling out the cell phone and calling the neighborhood patrol.

WWL TV settled the gunshots or firecrackers question, sadly my initial impulse was correct:

A man shot to death in a hail of bullets near the Irish Channel Thursday had recently testified in the trial of a man accused of killing Hot 8 Brass Band member Dinerral Shavers and was in the car when Shavers was killed, according to sources.

Sources said Thursday’s victim, 20-year-old Guy McEwan, was a friend of Shavers’ stepson. He testified in last week’s trial of David Bonds, who was accused of killing Shavers. Bonds was acquitted by a jury. The victim did not identify Bonds in testimony.

The shooting occurred near the corner of Peniston and Laurel around 5 p.m.

At least 22 shell casing markers littered the street, while witnesses said they heard at least 40 shots. Spent shell casings sat on the porch of a house nearby.

Ken Foster has been following the trial and offers sobering commentary as he reports the details that would be shocking if living in the Nagin/Blanco/Bush years had not left us cynical and jaded.

Guy was in the car when Dinerral Shavers was killed. He was a friend of Dinerral’s step son. He testified at the trial, but couldn’t identify the shooter, because the shots came from behind his head. But he did testify to the location and other details that built the case.

When he was called as a witness, William Boggs, the Public Defender, made a big noisy announcement that Guy had recently been picked up on a drug charge. He also announced that if Guy testified, the Public Defender’s Office would not represent him on his drug charge. It was one of many bizarre moments in the trial. The idea, on one level, was that if the PD was representing a witness in the trial, it might be a conflict of interest. But the way in which Boggs voiced this, it sounded more like an offer or a threat, ie. “If you don’t testify, we WILL defend you.”

Charming. Another example of the justice system in New Orleans operating at peak efficiency. Not to mention the sheer joy of actually hearing a gangland hit from the middle of my living room. Despite the efforts of the citizen uprising called Silence Is Violence, the mass of people converging upon city hall that (just like our mayor) accomplished nothing in the long run.

Murder in my neighborhood. Murderers walking out of court scott free. Just another day in New Orleans, don’t get lead poisoning.


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