Police Misconduct

Jan 31, 2009 by

 Lately, the TV has been full to the brim with faces of French Quarter residents, expressing their outrage at the murder of Wendy Byrne. They should be outraged. They should speak out.

 At the same time, I’ve seen more than a couple of those faces that have been thrown out of most of the local bars, enjoying the hungry press as they rant to a full audience, instead of cornering some hapless tourist in the back corner of a dark barroom. The press is, indeed, covering everyone & anyone who has something to say about this, myself included. They’re all about the sound bite, not the news.

That’s what they do.

 When I started writing about this trend, right here on humid city, it began with a cop, at a desk, not interested in taking a clue that could have led to these killers before they went on their final rampages, shooting Wendy mere minutes after robbing another man just a block away, and robbing as many as four people in a two hour Marigny Stint, only a day later.

 Just like the Press, Superintendent Riley wants to focus on this awful crime, the murder of an innocent, and tell us about how his new software did the trick. It was actually the witnesses who sat down to give descriptions, and the young lady who turned in private crime camera evidence, but hey, who’s counting? The cops who were supposed to be patrolling there were busy doing god-knows-what, and have been disciplined, but let’s not talk about that.

 The criminal apathy of the 5th district has been swept under the rug, and once again, all we Marigny/Bywater residents hear is French Quarter, French Quarter, French Quarter. Sure they need protection, too, but most importantly, that’s where the money is. And so it goes.

 While pundits from near and far chime in about walk-outs and demonstrations, downward spiraling school systems, the War on Drugs and family values, the issue that signaled this current apocolyptic wave was Police Misconduct, plain and simple.

  Riley says that foot patrols are inefficient. Of course, when he promised them right after Katrina, they were the fix-all. But now, not so much. I suppose the cop blasting his own private car stereo in the 5th district parking lot on Tuesday night, about 11pm, was much more efficient.

He rattled my windows and we couldn’t hear the TV over his R&B selections for about 25 minutes. I’m sure that will keep crime off the streets. Just like the cops there who speed recklessly up the one way street the wrong way, causing traffic on St. Claude to come to a screeching hault as a vehicle comes to the intersection, only to find a big ass Tundra rolling headlong at it’s grill.

But these are smaller issues.
Just like the Quality Of Life Officers warned us about. 
“If we start with the small stuff, it will reduce crime. If we let it go, they will only get bolder.” 

And bolder they have become.

I recieved the following story and from a reliable source. It could be any of us.

“I was driving behind a police car down St Phillip St. towards N Peters. The officer, William Torres, ignored the stop sign at that intersection and began to make a right turn onto N Peters without ever stopping. As a result he ran into a pedestrian who was trying to cross the street. Fortunately, he braked hard and avoided injuring the guy. When the pedestrian put out his palms (as if to say “What the hell?”), the officer got out of his car, grabbed the man, and made him put his hands on the hood of the police car. He started yelling at the guy and reaching for his handcuffs as if he were going to arrest him.

I got out of my car and started walking towards them. When Officer Torres saw me coming towards them, he shouted “What’s your problem?”. I said I saw him run the stop sign and run into the pedestrian. He immediately let the pedestrian go (he walked quickly away) and started yelling at me. He again asked what my problem was. I told him I saw what happened and that the pedestrian was not at fault so there was no cause to harass him.

He asked me “Do want a ticket?” I replied “A ticket for what? I didn’t do anything”. He said “It’s a simple question: Do you want a ticket- Yes or no?” I said “I’m getting back in my car. I have nothing more to say to you.” I got back in my car and started writing down the officer’s name. He said, “Give me your license. You want to write down my name? I can write too. I know who to harass.”

He wrote me a bogus ticket for not wearing a seatbelt (I had been wearing my seat belt, but he couldn’t have know one way or the other because the first time he saw me i was out of my car).”

 We are living under thug rule. They have badges and guns and a City of New Orleans paycheck, but still, muscle and weapons, kidnapping in handcuffs, hit and run, you name it;
There’s a crime spree going on.

Focus on the French Quarter avoids dealing with neighborhoods where the crime doesn’t make the news.  A Bywater woman stabbed to death in her home, as yet unsolved. A hit and run victim, still crippled, and no arrests made, athough the driver and vehicle were found and identified. NO cops on the beat, whatsoever, and there’s that refusal to act on clues that could have saved Wendy’s life.

Warren Riley’s commitment to bragging about his new software has nothing to do with fighting crime. His dropping the French Quarter name, over and over, is a hard sell to the media, to tourism, to play The Hero in this totally aviodable nightmare, while his minions go unchecked. If there were cops not on their patrol beat that night, and he didn’t know it, what else is running amok without his knowledge? A lot, I’m guessing.

Now a story of extortion and bullying in the French Quarter, to avoid the awful truth that a cop ran a stop sign and grazed a pedestrian. Bullying a citizen to avoid penalty for wrong doing is a criminal act as sure as any mob threat. Harrassing or intimidating a witness is a Federal Crime.

Until we get our own police force under control, and behaving like police (remember ‘protect & serve’?) no amount of civil demonstration or revamping the Family Unit is going to make a spit ball’s worth of difference. Why would street robbers obey laws when those laws are just the rules of a bigger gang with guns of their own?

We, my friends, must watch and document.
Give the press something else to talk about: Police Misconduct.
Get Riley off of your TV screen and back to work.
Get your story out there.

Lord David
Skull Club
New Orleans

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