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  1. #1
    srab's Avatar
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    New Orleans Officer Fired After Failing to shoot a gunman

    Times-Picayune

    NEW ORLEANS — Patrolling Algiers one August night, New Orleans police officer Stephen Neveaux and his partner hear a series of explosions. He drives toward the noise.

    Soon, they see a man standing about 50 feet away in the street, pointing a gun. Pop, pop.

    The police car pushes on. The gunman glances at the cops, then turns and fires twice again into darkness.

    Neveaux, a 26-year-old officer with less than four years' experience, hesitates. A shooting -- the first he's ever witnessed -- unfolds right in front of him, but in his mind, it all seems surreal.

    The moment cut to the essence of being a police officer in a city with about 200 murders and hundreds more shootings every year. A split-second decision can get a cop killed or make him kill; disgrace her or make her a hero; fill him with pride, or doubt and second-guessing.

    When Neveaux's moment came that night, he chose to hold his fire and let the car crawl forward. His partner, Officer April Moses, 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.

    The gunman dashed into a dark alley, jumped a fence and disappeared into the night. The two novice officers peeled back to the shooting scene in the 5700 block of Tullis Drive and found a man on the ground with a gunshot wound to the leg. They called Emergency Medical Services and assisted the bleeding man, who eventually recovered.

    The disciplinary letter was dated Sept. 24 and addressed to Officer Neveaux. It's a form letter, save for the spots where decision-makers specify which rules were violated.

    The department said Neveaux violated the NOPD's regulation outlined in Rule 4, paragraph 4, regarding neglect of duty. In addition, he violated Rule 7, regarding courage. For that, he received a 10-day suspension. The termination made the suspension moot.

    Neveaux did not expect that. He had three-and-a-half years on the job. He patrolled, wrote reports and kept his record clean -- no complaints. Until that day. Tales of police chases, shootings and fisticuffs spread fast in police stations. Within days, the whispers got back to Neveaux. Some colleagues even confronted him.

    " 'I would have shot him, I would have killed him,' " Neveaux recalled them saying.

    "It's easy for everyone to say what they would have done, what I could have done," Neveaux said.

    Victim upset

    On Nov. 20, Neveaux walked into the modest civil service hearing room in City Hall, subdued and dressed sharply.

    During the following 80 minutes, an appeal hearing, similar to a criminal case, unfolded. Such proceedings are governed by an examiner, who hears testimony and then makes a recommendation to the civil service board, which eventually renders a judgment.

    In that hearing, Neveaux's whole career went under the microscope -- but none of it as intensely as the seconds after he saw the man shooting.

    Lesia Mims, the police investigator who handled the case, testified Neveaux did nothing to stop the threat.

    "In our line of work . . . we don't have time sometimes to think about self-preservation," she said. "We as police officers should -- we have to -- be brave."

    Neveaux sat and stared dead ahead at the wall.

    Mims mentioned that the gunshot victim was upset and believed police allowed the gunman to shoot him.

    Next, Mims described a witness, a man who said he saw everything. Mims said she had asked the man whether Neveaux and Moses had time to stop the shooting.

    The man replied: "I don't think so. It happened so fast. I think (the shooter) may have caught them unaware."

    That witness also said he heard Moses say minutes after the incident that she had not intended to exit the car amid gunfire -- contradicting her testimony, in which she put blame for inaction on her partner.

    According to Mims, the witness heard Moses say: "I'm not getting out of the car. I saw the guy with the gun right in front of me and everything. The gun's blazing, and I don't know if he was going to shoot me or not."

    Hessler paced the room, quickly firing questions meant to pierce the internal investigation.

    He asked Mims directly: What should Neveaux have done?

    She stated his "primary duty" was to "render aid to the victim."



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  2. #2
    srab's Avatar
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    I'll join many comments on P1, and say that the internal was not impartial and the investigator's statements contradict her own rhetoric. Sad to see that the two former partners are now on opposites...beyond me how anyone can judge him fully, without beeing there.
    "The best tank terrain is that without anti-tank weapons"
    Russian military doctrine


    "All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us...they can't get away this time"
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  3. #3
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    I'm not going to judge this officer, since I wasn't there and haven't seen the facts of the case. I have walked in to one shooting before. All I know from that incident was my gun was in my hand and my front sight was centered on the guys chest. I don't even remember drawing.
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    possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!'

    A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity. Sigmund Freud

  4. #4
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    Damned if you do , damned if you don't. If the shooter had turned out to be a person with a legal concealed carry permit or police officer defending themselves from a robbery attempt , they would be trying to fire and prosecute him for that. My question is why didn't they fire Moses too. At least Neveaux got out of the car and there were no allegations of cowardly statements on his part. Easy to second guess an officer in the comfort of a conference or court room. If Neveaux did hesitate before firing was it fear for his safety or fear of being tried on CNN.
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  5. #5
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    On the surface, it looks like exactly what I keep talking about regarding Grossman's research in "On Killing".

    I'm not going to make a personal judgment on anything I read in the paper, but I've certainly investigated a number of cases like this in my own dept where someone froze.

    That's why I keep preaching to never assume your backup is going to be able to do what needs to be done. This guy may well have had a good reason not to shoot, but the investigator, who knows more than any of us about it didn't think so. I'm not impressed with the partner either.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    On the surface, it looks like exactly what I keep talking about regarding Grossman's research in "On Killing".

    I agree with the above. I also think that this is a product of the modern academy training, and the crucifiction of officers involved in shooting (even completely justified shootings). New officers are more concerned with getting sued and complaints:

    Quote Originally Posted by srab View Post
    Neveaux did not expect that. He had three-and-a-half years on the job. He patrolled, wrote reports and kept his record clean -- no complaints.
    In the age of runaway civil litigation and political correctness we live in a world of the double edged sword. Regardless of the actions we take we will be judged after the fact by people that were not there. These same people will most likely have never even been in a similar situation. What is known, and more importantly, unknown at the time of the event will be trumped by what is uncovered during investigations by those under fluorescent lights, in climate controlled environments, and with resting heart rates.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
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  7. #7
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    I agree with the above. I also think that this is a product of the modern academy training, and the crucifiction of officers involved in shooting (even completely justified shootings). New officers are more concerned with getting sued and complaints:
    I don't know if the fear of lawsuits is any worse than it's been in the past. It was everyone's mind back in the 70's when I started. In 1976, cops on my dept shot and killed 6 black men in one summer. We were accused of committing "genocide" on young black men in the the community. You don't think that didn't make you think when you were on patrol "are you going to be the next one that will start the riots again and get hung out to dry for it". That was constantly on my mind, but I knew I would still have to do what I had to do. I just prayed I never got into one of those situations. Fortunately, it was a couple of years later and the guy was white.

    I can't speak to academy training of today, but I can't say it was that great when I was working when it came to shooting situations. I admit that we started doing FATS training in in-service and that was pretty good, I thought. Personally, I think officers should get that every few months. Hogan's alley was a joke.

    Most of the lawsuits we've seen were when the officer intentionally got himself in a position where he had no choice, e.g. standing directly in front of a suspect vehicle where he couldn't get out of the way and the car started moving forward. In several, there was no indication to me that the bad guy was actually trying to run over the officer as much as escape. Personally, I always avoided standing directly in front or in the rear of a car with a suspect in it. In one that I reviewed, the suspect in a car theft had the wheels locked in a hard left turn, obviously trying to go around the officer. The shooting was legal and within guidelines, but stuff like that doesn't look good to a jury and can look unnecessary to a citizen.

    In one case, the officer climbed in the car to extricate the driver, a female with a warrant. In the wrestling, the car started moving forward with him half in the car and he shot and killed her over a probation violation. Climbing in car like that to remove an unarmed suspect has never been part of our training.

    I can't recall a lawsuit in a good righteous shooting situation like what was described in this story. But again, and I emphasize, I refuse to make a hard judgment from a news article alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    In the age of runaway civil litigation and political correctness we live in a world of the double edged sword. Regardless of the actions we take we will be judged after the fact by people that were not there. These same people will most likely have never even been in a similar situation. What is known, and more importantly, unknown at the time of the event will be trumped by what is uncovered during investigations by those under fluorescent lights, in climate controlled environments, and with resting heart rates.
    That's nothing new either. That really started picking up in the mid eighties around here. But this really doesn't look like a case where the dept is folding to an angry media though. Again, on the surface, this looks like a guy who thought the job was going to consist of "writing reports and keeping his record clean". I have to admit that if I worked with him, I'd be thinking about his incident and probably wouldn't trust him until he did something or explained this incident in a way to make me think differently.

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