New Orleans’ most prominent police union has called for NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau head to resign following a comment she made Tuesday night.
In a forum Tuesday, Deputy Superintendent Arlinda Westbrook said that officers of New Orleans would have been “arrested on the spot” if they had shot Eric Harris in the manner Jefferson Parish, LA deputies had a month prior.
According to NOLA, after threatening a woman with a handgun, 22 year old Eric Harris was killed after two deputies shot him following a vehicular pursuit across two towns.
While JPSO say deputies opened fire in self defense after Harris attempted to run them over in reverse, the statement has been disputed by Harris’ girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car.
The shooting prompted demonstrations by the Harris family, who has been backed by the Black Lives Matter movement.
At the forum attended by Harris’ family, Westbrook said NOPD officers would have been arrested had they done what the Jefferson Parish deputies did.
“If that was our police officer, because it’s so contrary to our policy, they would have been arrested on the spot,” Westbrook said. “We would not have been authorized in New Orleans to take any of those actions.”
NOPD has distanced themselves from Westbrook, saying she misspoke.
Fraternal Order of Police Crescent City Lodge #2 attorney and spokesman Donovan Livaccari states that Westbrook has “never been a police officer before, and it doesn’t matter how many years she spent in the public integrity bureau, she apparently does not have a clear understanding of some basic law enforcement concepts.”
He went on further to state that Westbrook’s comments jeopardize the department’s relationship with Jefferson Parish as well as the the officers of NOPD, whom Livaccari said are “extraordinarily disturbed” by what she said.
“It would certainly be a shame if that led to officers second-guessing themselves to the point where somebody was injured or killed out of fear for being placed under arrest for violating a policy,” he said.
New Orleans Police responded, saying that “Deputy Chief Westbrook intended to convey that NOPD policy differs from JPSO policy on the matter of moving vehicles and use of force; however, she incorrectly stated that an NOPD officer would have been arrested on the spot. In officer-involved shootings, arrest and prosecutorial decisions are made by the District Attorney or US Attorney.
NOPD also stated that the NOPD and FBI are investigating the shooting.
NOPD Use of Force policy can be found here.
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