Court Officer Suspended, Accused of Ignoring Rape

New Orleans police make clear it wasn't one of their officers involved
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 5:10 PM CDT
Court Officer Suspended, Accused of Ignoring Rape
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell holds a press conference with Police Chief Shaun Ferguson earlier this month.   (Sophia Germer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

(Newser) – New Orleans' police chief said it wasn't his officer who failed to intervene in a rape in the city's French Quarter. A witness had reported the crime on July 26, telling a 911 operator that a man was raping an unconscious woman while an officer about a block away ignored the attack, WVUE reports. The woman tweeted that she talked to the officer, who still declined to help, and that two other police officers drove by without stopping. The recording of the 911 call, which NOLA.com posted here, reflects the witness' distress. "It's super traumatic," she said. "This officer hasn't even moved and these two police officers just drove past, shined their headlights right on her, and just continued to drive."

Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said Thursday that the officer who stood by actually was a deputy constable for the Second City Court. The deputy's boss said he was in uniform and working a paid detail for a movie being filmed in the area. "She thought she was speaking to a police officer," Ferguson said. "Unfortunately, some of our uniforms are similar in nature." Constables in Louisiana have the authority to make an arrest, per the Washington Post. The deputy constable has been suspended during an internal investigation. That doesn't explain the officers the witness said drove by; the chief said video shows a police department vehicle in the area at the time.

But Ferguson said investigators can't tell if the officers in it saw the rape taking place, per WWL. "No one waved or flagged the vehicle down to draw the officers' attention to that particular incident," he said. Officials said a New Orleans officer arrived within five minutes of the witness' call. City police are investigating the crime but not their response. "At no time did an NOPD officer refuse assistance, fail to respond, or fail to take police action on a reported sexual assault," Ferguson said. At one point in her call, the frustrated witness was considering intervening in the assault. "Like this poor girl," she said. "I mean, I am going to get up there faster than this f***ing cop is." (Read more police stories.)

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