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by Peter Moskos

March 19, 2009

Police officer fired for neglect, cowardice after failing to shoot at gunman

Policing is one of the few jobs where "cowardice" can get you fired. Here's a fascinating story by Brendan McCarthy in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about a police officer fired for not shooting a gun man.
They see a man standing about 50 feet away in the street, pointing a gun. Pop, pop.
He chose to hold his fire and let the car crawl forward. His partner... would say later that she tried to step out, but that he ordered her back into the car. He said he thought they needed cover, that they hadn't had time to assess the situation.

Within seconds, the pops stopped. The gunman fled, with Neveaux in pursuit, his partner in the passenger seat.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, what Neveaux did was wrong. So wrong, in fact, that internal investigators cited him for cowardice and neglect of duty. High-ranking officials conferred and confirmed. After an administrative hearing, NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley fired Neveaux.
Neveaux's lawyer is Eric Hessler:
Nine years ago, Hessler faced a similar split-second dilemma and did what Neveaux didn't: He shot.

Hessler, then an NOPD officer, had come upon a shooting in progress.

The man firing his weapon, 23-year-old Steven Hawkins, turned toward him and fired, Hessler said. Hessler reached for his service weapon and fired back, hitting Hawkins once and killing him.

After the smoke cleared, police learned Hawkins, a carjacking victim, had been shooting at his attackers in self-defense.
The NOPD stood by Hessler and deemed the shooting justifiable. A grand jury cleared him of criminal charges.

The family of the deceased man sued in civil court, and a judge ordered the city last year to pay $700,000 to the man's parents.
Damned if you, damned if you don't. What would have I done? I don't know. I wasn't there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the hawkins case was a lie.. Hessler shot mr hawkins before he can even turn look at him. Mr hawkins was shot in the back of the head, and to make things even more crazy, he said Hawkins shat at him, Hawkins was very very left handed and could have possibly shot at him from the angles he produced in this case, Yet alone, Hawkins never seen him. So he died without knowing who shot him. AND the only witness was constantly threatened by the police, so he was scared to testify.