NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) –
“This type of behavior is not and will not be tolerated by me or by this police department,” NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said.
It’s an incident that City Council members wanted to know more about.
“I mean, this was a severe attack,” said Councilwoman Helena Moreno.
Investigators said former NOPD officers John Galman and Spencer Sutton beat Jorge Gomez, leaving him bloodied and bruised on July 24 at the Mid-City Yacht Club.
“Our officers were off duty. From our investigation, they started drinking at home and then continued drinking at the bar,” Harrison said.
Gomez told FOX 8 that the two men questioned his citizenship and military background before the beating started.
“We were told on the scene that there was the possibility of a civil rights violation,” Public Integrity Bureau Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook said.
The big question the council wants answered is why police booked the now-fired officers with a misdemeanor for simple battery instead of a more serious charge. Harrison said police charged the men based solely on the evidence available at the time. Westbrook said another incident unfolded down the street from the bar that night.
“That’s when the most brutal attack happened. The video was not pointing directly, so we were not able to get the video. We are still investigating that portion of it,” she said.
Westbrook said the NOPD is now working with the DA’s office to upgrade the charges against Galman and Sutton.
“The FBI is working with us in reference to possible civil rights charges,” Westbrook said.
Both of the fired officers were rookies. Chief Harrison said both men were cleared by background checks and a psychiatric evaluation. Westbrook, though, said Galman, who was hired in June, had already received two disciplinary complaints against him before the beating took place.
“So, within a very short period of time, that one officer had two other incidents, and this would be a third,” Westbrook said.
Council members believed the prior incidents should have been a red flag that something was wrong, but Westbrook said the claims against him were considered minor and were being addressed.
Now, the investigation into what unfolded at the Mid-City Yacht Club continues.
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Published at Wed, 08 Aug 2018 22:10:00 +0000