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07-02-07, 03:29 PM #1
New Orleans Police Officer accused of assaulting school teacher has charges re-filed against him
NEW ORLEANS -- Prosecutors have refiled charges against a former police officer accused in a videotaped beating of a man after Hurricane Katrina, the authorities said Friday.
Robert Evangelist pleaded not guilty Friday to new charges of second-degree battery and false imprisonment.
District Attorney Eddie Jordan's office threw out the original charges because prosecutors who first worked the case improperly received reports from the New Orleans Police Department's internal affairs probe, spokesman Dalton Savwoir confirmed.
The new charges mean the two-year-old prosecution that became a symbol of NOPD's post-Katrina difficulties starts all over again.
Evangelist and Lance Schilling were fired from the police department after being accused of beating former teacher Robert Davis, 64, who had returned to New Orleans to check on his property in October 2005. The arrest was caught on video by an Associated Press television crew.
Schilling committed suicide earlier this month.
A third officer, Stuart Smith, was accused of a misdemeanor charge of simple battery against APTN producer Richard Matthews. State District Judge Frank Marullo recently threw out the charge against Smith because prosecutors improperly used a statement Smith made to the police department, Smith's attorney Eric Hessler said. Smith remains on the force after serving a 120-day suspension.
The officers said they stopped Davis on suspicion of being drunk and that he became confrontational. Davis was booked with public intoxication, but never charged. He said he had left his hotel room to buy cigarettes and hadn't been drinking.
Davis' federal civil lawsuit against the New Orleans Police Department seeking compensation has been put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case, said his lawyer, Stephen Bruno.
"Whether or not they are convicted will not prevent us from pursuing the civil action," Bruno said. "It would be beneficial if justice was served. We'd like to see them punished but it's up to the district attorney to do his job."
A message was left Friday night at the law office of Evangelist's attorney of record, John DiGiulio.
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