What kind of police officer steals evidence?: Editorial
By The Editorial Board, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
July 08, 2015 at 6:31 AM, updated July 08, 2015 at 10:43 AM
A disturbing question hangs over the shooting death of New Orleans Police Officer Daryle Holloway: How did the suspect he was transporting to Central Lockup get his hands on the .40-caliber weapon that killed the veteran officer? That is still under investigation, Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said Tuesday (July 7). But one of two officers who initially arrested suspect Travis Boys June 20 is under arrest himself, accused of taking a box of .40-caliber bullets at the scene and never processing it into evidence.
Officer Wardell Johnson, a 12-year veteran, faces charges of obstruction of justice, malfeasance in office and theft. He also is on emergency suspension.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said video evidence from police body-worn cameras show Officer Johnson “deliberately attempted to leave a .40-caliber casing on the scene” of Travis Boys’ arrest on an aggravated assault call. The officer also kept a box of .40-caliber bullets given to him there and, according to court records, lied to Public Integrity Bureau investigators at least twice about that evidence.
At a press conference, Superintendent Harrison said: “As your chief … as a member of this community, I can’t begin to tell you how disgusted, frustrated and appalled I am” by the conduct of Officer Johnson.
It is appalling. Police say that Officer Johnson not only hid crucial evidence, he also threw the box of bullets into a canal Monday (July 6) when he realized Public Integrity Bureau investigators were onto him.
NOPD was still looking for the box of bullets Tuesday afternoon and was working with the Sewerage & Water Board to drain water out of the canal to help with the search.
Superintendent Harrison emphasized the department has no evidence that Officer Johnson knew Travis Boys planned to escape or aided him in doing so.
But the superintendent also said the videotape of Officer Johnson frisking Mr. Boys after his arrest for allegedly firing a gunshot at his wife shows the search “was not thorough, and was not consistent with our training.”