The stuff that's actually new information is in bold:
New Orleans Police Department- Public Information Office
An Update on the Investigation into the Police-Involved Shooting on Prentiss Avenue
(March 13, 2012)- Superintendent Ronal Serpas today provided an update for the community on the investigation of the police-involved shooting in the 2600-block of Prentiss Avenue on Wednesday, March 8, 2012. The shooting occurred during the serving of a narcotics search warrant at the house, which resulted in the death of 20-year-old Wendell Allen.
The criminal investigation, which started the night of the incident, includes the interviews of witnesses and the processing of forensic evidence recovered from the scene. This investigation is being conducted jointly by detectives from the Homicide Division and supervisors from the Public Integrity Bureau (PIB) and includes continual review and unfettered access by FBI agents assigned to PIB. There is active and ongoing communication with the Office of the District Attorney as well as the Independent Police Monitor. Much has already been accomplished involving statements from NOPD officers and civilians, including adults and children who were present at the time of the shooting.
As a part of the on-going criminal investigation, investigators have sought to obtain a voluntary statement from Officer Joshua Colclough, who fired his service weapon one time, fatally wounding Wendell Allen. Officer Colclough has retained counsel. Criminal investigators have contacted his attorney for several days to ask the officer to make a statement, but his attorney has not made Officer Colclough available to do so. As PIB protocol dictates, following the shooting, Officer Colclough was immediately reassigned to desk duty.
“It is critical that this Department and this community understand what happened that night on Prentiss Avenue. A complete and thorough criminal investigation is a vital part of that process of understanding, and we cannot take any action which could possibly put a criminal investigation in jeopardy,” said Superintendent Serpas.
“If the officer were forced to give a statement to police, that statement could not be used against him in a criminal case, if it became necessary to do so. We will continue to work to get a voluntary statement from Officer Colclough, but a thorough investigation will be completed with or without it.”
If elevator music grates your nerves, you're really going to like this. Jammy Jams takes popular tunes and turns them into incessantly chiming lullabies performed on vibraphone and piano without lyrics. That's one way to make some of these tunes suitable for all ages. The Once Upon a Rhyme collection of hip-hop songs includes Outkast's "Hey Ya," Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin" Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" and Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise." There's also a whole album of Lady Gaga tunes, and if that's all a bit too heavy, there's an album of lullabied Christian rock. There are many samples on JJ's YouTube page. You can decide whether this will help children appreciate music.
Rock for toddlers seems to be a very tiny niche genre (as previously covered in Gambit). There's Los Angeles' based Black Rattle, a metal outfit for kiddies (cover of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on its myspace page). San Francisco has the Beatles-esque touchy-feely Sippy Cups. The Mekons-alums filled Wee Hairy Beasties (on Chicago's Bloodshot Records) may still be the best of the kiddie bands.
And there are groups that find contemporary music that's already appropriate for young audiences. Here are some playlists from Wonderground Radio, on Minnesota Public Radio, and a parents blog about music families can share called Sparetherock.
Narkee Hunter, one of four persons of interest police identified in connection with the murder of one-year-old Kiera Holmes, and Marvin Carter, the man arrested for the mass French Quarter shooting, will not be prosecuted, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office says in a press release. Cannizzaro blames lack of sufficient evidence in both cases.
On Hunter: "To even consider initiating prosecution in a murder case, prosecutors — at a minimum — must have at least one of the following: an eyewitness; physical evidence linking the suspect to the crime; or a confession. In the case against Hunter, none of the aforementioned categories of evidence existed."
On Carter: "The case against Hunter [note: this appears to be a typo and should read "Carter"] was based on the testimony of a single witness. However, the Grand Jury pretermitted — that is declined to make a decision — on the case."
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, responding to the news today, said that police make arrests based on probable cause, not whether there is evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.
"[NOPD and the District Attorney] are all in this together," Serpas said. He said the department is willing to do more work to make sure it delivers prosecutable cases to Cannizzaro but added that police need help from citizens, in the form of tips and willing witnesses.
The feds, however, have pursued a case against Hunter, along with Terrious Owney, who was also identified as a person of interest in Holmes' murder. Online records from the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office show that Tyrone Knockum, also identified by police in connection the toddler's death, was booked for murder. A fourth possible suspect, Charles Anderson, was shot to death in December.
(Read the full release after the jump)
Fourth District Detective Tiwanda Alexander is charged with taking $3,600 from nonprofit housing assistance group the House of Ruth — which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — between 2007 and 2008, according to the federal indictment. Alexander was not homeless and was making more than $40,000 per year in salary. Alexander faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Read the full indictment: Alexander__Tiwana_ind.pdf
The press release from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten:
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA -TIWANA ALEXANDER, age 37, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, and a detective employed by the New Orleans Police Department in the Fourth District, was charged by a federal grand jury today in a two-count indictment charging her with conspiracy and theft of federal funds, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the indictment, from March 2007 through July 2008, ALEXANDER conspired with a former case manager who worked for the House of Ruth, a non-profit organization receiving federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), to steal approximately $3,600. One of the primary missions of the House of Ruth is to provide short-term rental and other basic assistance to homeless individuals and families. The indictment alleges that from May 2007 through July 2008, ALEXANDER, who was not homeless or jobless at the time and earned an income exceeding $40,000, knew she did not qualify for House of Ruth assistance. Nevertheless, ALEXANDER conspired with the former House of Ruth case manager to steal money from the House of Ruth. The indictment alleges that she used two checks to pay her rent: one in July of 2007 and one in August of 2007. On three occasions in November 2007, December 2007, and January 2008 she deposited House of Ruth checks each in the amount of $900 into her own personal checking account.
If convicted, ALEXANDER faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a $250,0000 fine, restitution to the House of Ruth, and three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment.
U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman.
This just in from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office: Michael T. Drury, who, according to this 2009 Times-Picayune story, was "an environmental scientist who has been monitoring the work of demolition and construction contractors involved in asbestos-removal projects in New Orleans," for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was sentenced to three years in prison today for federal child pornography charges. Drury pleaded guilty in August.
The press release:
NEW ORLEANS MAN SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS
IN PRISON FOR CRIMES INVOLVING THE
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MICHAEL T. DRURY, age 55, a resident of New Orleans, was sentenced today by U. S. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman to a term of thirty-six (36) months in prison, followed by a ten (10) year period of supervised release, and a $5,000 fine, after previously pleading guilty to felony crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten.
(Continued after the jump)
As first reported by Fox 8, the following letter has been posted on the Police Association of New Orleans' (PANO) website since yesterday. It's not attributed to PANO but to "a platoon of officers from a police district in the NOPD" and details a number of complaints about the department's current direction.
Gambit has requested NOPD comment on the letter and
is awaiting a response here's a statement from Superintendent Ronal Serpas:
"We regularly hear from hundreds of hard-working New Orleans Police officers who appreciate that this department is undergoing a transformation to make it better, and they're excited to be a part of this. I want to thank them for their dedication, their patience, and I share with them their desire to succeed so that we can better serve the people of New Orleans."
Specific issues highlighted in the letter:
—An alleged shift of focus from responding to citizen complaints to "obtaining ‘stats’ (arrests and other 'activity' to generate statistical evidence of work), so the leadership can have numbers to justify their actions"
—The department's new policy of issuing summonses, rather than arresting offenders, for many misdemeanors and municipal violations, in cases where suspects' have no serious criminal records. The anonymous officers say "should be left to the discretion of the officer and his supervisors in the field."
Note: Of course, that policy was implemented as a response to reports showing that NOPD arrest rates were remarkably high, filling up jails and costing the city in per diem payments to the sheriff's office, not to mention eating up police officers' time. The Department of Justice, in its March 2011-released investigation (PDF link) of the NOPD, also criticized the department for being too arrest-focused.
—Manpower: "Of the estimated manpower of 1300 Officers, the platoons who provide the basic police service, the uniformed officers in your neighborhood who answer your calls, are about 300 to 400. These men and women, with some exceptions, are forced to work in one Officer units. This is dangerous for the Officers as well as for the Citizens who depend on us."
(Read the full letter plus the PANO introduction after the jump)
The New Orleans Police Department will no longer be releasing arrest histories on every homicide victim in its press releases. Instead, NOPD will issue a monthly report including statistics on victim and perpetrator arrests, as well as the percent arrested for gun crimes, felonies and misdemeanors. (Not included: Percent convicted vs. acquitted or length of time since the arrests occurred.) None of that information, however, will be connected to names of particular victims.
In a press release from NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas below, you can see a report, under the new policy, for January 2012. It's pretty much precisely what City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell suggested at a recent meeting of the Criminal Justice Committee.
The change comes shortly after a whole bunch of things happened: (1) community outrage after the release of "Good Samaritan" Mike Ainsworth's record, (2) a report from the Lens noting apparent discrepancies between the Ainsworth press release and previous ones, (3) The Times-Picayune's Sunday opinion section and (4) some unflattering exposure in national news outlets. Not to mention (5) a petition asking the department to change the policy, which got 182 "signatures" in the past two days, and (6) proposed state legislation banning the practice.
(Press release after the jump)
From angry celebrity David Simon's book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, upon which the show was based, "red-ball case," meaning a politically sensitive case that the media is following:
"A red-ball case can mean twenty-hour days and constant reports to the entire chain of command; it can become a special detail, with detectives pulled out of the regular rotation and other cases put on indefinite hold."
From the NOLA Info press release machine:
FBI Offers to Assist in Identifying and Locating Carjacking/Murder Suspect
(January 26, 2012)- FBI Agents will meet with New Orleans homicide detectives this afternoon to assist in identifying and locating the man suspected of killing an Algiers father yesterday morning.
Agents contacted New Orleans police yesterday to offer their help, and detectives accepted the offer because of all the FBI brings to the table.
44-year-old Harry “Mike” Ainsworth was gunned down yesterday morning shortly after 7 as his two young sons looked on. The incident happened in the 500-block of Vallette Street. Ainsworth had been waiting with his kids for their school bus when he saw a carjacking in progress. He ran to the car and jumped on its hood to stop the gunman from driving off. Instead, the suspect shot at Ainsworth, striking him in the chest. Ainsworth ran a few feet from the car, collapsed in someone’s front yard and died on the scene. The gunman quickly jumped out of the car and fled on foot.
“We are grateful that a number of people in this neighborhood approached police to tell us what they saw”, said Superintendent Ronal Serpas. “Because of their eye witness accounts, we were able to put together a composite sketch of the man we believe committed this unthinkable crime.”
(The rest of the press release, including Ainsworth's arrest record after the jump)
The following, very proud, weed-porn-filled press release seemed to call for a New York Post headline.
(January 23, 2012)- A concerned citizen called police after smelling burning marijuana in a 7th Ward neighborhood this weekend. After investigating, officers hauled off a local man for running a booming drug business from his apartment. The man had approximately $50,000 worth of marijuana in the location.
Officers went to a building in the 1700-block of Lapeyrouse Street at around 10:45 last Saturday night, and picked up on the scent themselves. Soon after they arrived, 45-year-old Troy Ray stuck his head out of a second floor window to ask the officers why they were there. The officers explained, and then heard dogs barking and what sounded like someone scurrying about inside the structure, which prompted the officers to call for back-up and set a perimeter around the location. At one point, Ray tried to make a break for it through the back of the building. When doing so, he discarded a dark backpack on the ground. Officers were quick to apprehend him and recover the bag.
When officers searched the backpack, they found 2 brown bags and a container stuffed with marijuana. They also seized $512 in cash. When questioned, Ray gave officers the impression that more of the drug was inside the building, so they obtained a narcotics search warrant to look inside. A search of the building revealed that Ray was running a “grow operation.” One bedroom had 165 marijuana plants that were growing under heat lamps. There were also many items of drug paraphernalia as well as more containers of marijuana. Officers also found a bag of psilocybin (mushrooms) and a digital scale. The total weight of marijuana plants and bags/containers of marijuana was about 45 pounds. That has a street value of approximately $50,000.
Read the city's Office of Blight Policy and Neighborhood Revitalization's annual report: Annual_Blight_Strategy_Report_-_Dec-29-2011.pdf
And the accompanying press release:
CITY SHOWS PROGRESS IN FIGHTING BLIGHT
Releases Blight Strategy Report on 2011 Progress
NEW ORLEANS, LA—It has been over one year since Mayor Landrieu launched a new, aggressive blight strategy aimed at reducing 10,000 blighted properties in New Orleans by 2014. Since then, the City has conducted 28,024 inspections, demolished 2,280 blighted units, moved over 1000 properties to code lien foreclosure, and collected over $1.5 million in blight liens and fines. The City has also held 29 BlightStat performance management meetings.
“We’ve accomplished a great deal this past year—making our neighborhoods a better, safer place to live by reducing the number of dangerous, blighted properties in our neighborhoods,” said Jeff Hebert, Director of Blight Policy and Neighborhood Revitalization. “But in order to meet and surpass our mutual goal of revitalizing the neighborhoods of this city, we have a long road to go.”
According to the 2011 report, the City has already shown improvement in performance and results [Note: after the jump]:
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Same Ole, Same Ole, Why don't any of these places use tzatzike sauce?