Remember that retired teacher who got beat up on Bourbon Street shortly after Katrina? Sure you do, it was on television all over the world, a blatant example of police brutality and a huge embarrassment to the city of New Orleans.
Well, the latest news is that the accused officer was acquitted.
Some will say that Judge Frank Marullo has a pro-police bias. But I note the following from a Crouere’s Corner:
In the past, Marullo had legendary conflicts with former District Attorney Harry Connick and some believed that he was one of the more liberal judges on the criminal court bench.
And I’m sure some will say Marullo is dirty — nothing would surprise me.
But I am left to wonder about the prosecutor. This seems like such an easy case. It seems like another example of a botched prosecution.
We already know that District Attorney’s office can’t handle the job. Some of Eddie Jordan’s defenders have stuck by him out of a false hope that he’s going to clean up the police department. Unfortunately, he can’t, and this acquittal is further evidence of that. He’ll blow the Danziger case too. Mark my words.
Anyway you slice it, this is an ugly case. The other officer involved, who was also being prosecuted, killed himself last month.
And as for Stewart Smith, the third cop, who tried to stop the Associated Press from videotaping the incident? Charges against him were dismissed because the D.A. missed the deadline.
I was looking for C Ray’s quote on disturbing patterns in the DA’s office to see if this would fit his definition, when I found this:
“In one murder investigation this year, the district attorney paid $16,000 in travel, lodging and food for a family of four to stay in New Orleans four months. Three of the family members were potential witnesses, requiring the temporary relocation of the entire family.
“This family was very needy, and we were taking care of their daily needs,” Savwoir says.”
He’s got his hand out for a million just to “find witnesses”, and we’re not supposed to believe there’s corruption going on? Did they travel in from China, or stay at the W for 4 grand a month?
I’m glad I’m a pacifist. Otherwise this would be a good time to take it out on a few folks and get away with it.
“We are outraged at the scapegoating of Eddie Jordan,” said Ursula Price of Safe Streets/Strong Communities, a group based in Central City. “The one man fighting corruption in the Police Department is now being criticized? Why is he the first one to be on the chopping block? The resignation of one public official will not resolve the dysfunction of the criminal justice system.”
“In one murder investigation this year, the district attorney paid $16,000 in travel, lodging and food for a family of four to stay in New Orleans four months. Three of the family members were potential witnesses, requiring the temporary relocation of the entire family.”
This the same deaprtment that hasn’t turned in the needed paperwork to the state for their budget for nearly two years? To say, “[t]he resignation of one public official will not resolve the dysfunction of the criminal justice system,” is like saying “cutting out that tumor in your lung may not remove all of the cancer in your body so let’s just leave it there and when you die the you will be better.” Huh?
No, it may not solve all the problems, but it will mean that one part of the trilogy of terror that is running our cities justice system will be fixed and/or at least on the road to recovery.
Not that I’m defending Jordan at all, because he is indefensible…
But the math on spending $16,000 for a family of four for four months’ room and board and travel is not really that bad.
That’s $100 a day. When one considers that they probably needed two hotel rooms and three meals a day, I think $100/day is actually pretty reasonable. Have you seen hotel rates anywhere in this country lately? You’d be lucky to find a single room for $100/day, let alone two. And that doesn’t even feed the family or pay for their travel.
Why can’t reporters do math? This just looks like a reporter or an editor putting a number with lots of digits in an article to provoke a reaction. Leave it to the engineer in the crowd to deflate that reaction…
Sorry, I meant $133/day. But my point still stands.
I did not see this reported by any of the TV reporters, local or national, but it appeared to me from the tape that the officer who I believe was Officer Evangeliste (who was found not guilty by Judge Marullo) did not do anything to the vic other than try to handcuff him. The punching was done by the balding officer and the arm-twisting by the FBI guys. If I have identified the right officer, then it is quite obvious that Evangeliste was not guilty.
When the judge says that it wasn’t even a close case, that’s a pretty strong statement. I don’t think a reasonable judge would say that if it was just a matter of the prosecution failing to present the case well.
This may not be a case of Jordan screwing up (I know, I find that remarkable as well).
Matt, sometimes you need more than math, sometimes you need context. The bookenders to the previous quote are:
“In 80% of the cases, the witnesses have been lodged at hotels and returned to their new homes after their help is no longer needed.”
“Jordan, the district attorney, says the problems are extremely complex. A solution, he says, will take money and time. ‘Nobody understands what we’re up against here.'”
If you want to go by math, then $16,000 for one family out of $100,000 “in the past year” means not a helluva lot of witnesses were “helped”. But I sat at the last Council meeting Jordan was at and heard him obfuscate with numbers: the whole reason I included the paragraph with the DA spokesman’s name is because it reads like even the department considers that fee excessive. Consider, please, that’s more than FEMA offered anyone for a four-month period. Consider also that putting up witnesses in hotels for a longer stay is not the very best move for security’s sake. It undoubtedly wasn’t like they were being put up in *New Orleans* hotels anyhow (what protection would that be?), ergo I was being facetious.
There is a pattern of financial mismanagement going on with the DA’s office which Jordan claims repeatedly can be “fixed” only by throwing money at him and giving him time (presumably, at least until the next election if not longer). I wonder if last year’s audit was filed Monday, or if that deadline was just for 2005. Now, the problem with that claim is it really, really makes New Orleans look bad on a federal level. It doesn’t help those crooked Louisianian stereotypes. It doesn’t lend to recovery to say we spent $16 grand on housing a family of four when our prosecutors make $50 grand, so give us more money.
As for the other “disturbing pattern” evidenced by this case Bart posted on, for me the main issue is that the perception created is that justice has not been done for the victim. It is sad the one policeman took his own life, but that isn’t any form of justice being served. The reaction of bystanders on the video(s) shown along with the amount of blood on the sidewalk indicates, to me, the use of excessive force. It may be that Officer Evangelist is not guilty of the charge – “He said the man had ‘bumped into’ the back of a mounted police horse”… um, okay – but were the FBI agents given immunity from prosecution? It’s hard to argue Jordan’s office didn’t bungle this case because there are many, many ways to deliberately fail a prosecution. If these failures aren’t intentional, a lot of heads need to roll in that mismanaged department.
Did anybody catch the DA’s latest failure?
After this and the Davies’ mess today [7/27/07] Jordon and his team could not have gotten an idictment on the Big Bad Wolf for eating two of those three Pigs– no evidence it wasn’t nature that took out their homes & the pigs with them and no witnesses who saw any pig eating going on. Jordon needs to go–now.