NEW ORLEANS—The ACLU of Louisiana has released the following statement in response to plans for the unprecedented partnership between the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.
The proposal outlined plans to allow the state’s Attorney General— not only the Orleans Parish District Attorney—to prosecute cases involving Louisiana State Police (LSP) officers. In 2017, then Attorney-General Jeff Landry tried to commission a task force to decrease crime in New Orleans. At the time, a federal judge said the Attorney General’s Office didn’t have the authority to make arrests and the task force was disbanded.
The new proposal also allows LSP to investigate officer-involved-shootings and cases involving use of force. This proposal comes after existing plans to bring at least 40 LSP officers to New Orleans. LSP is currently under federal investigation for excessive force and racially discriminatory policing stemming from the killing of Ronald Greene and its subsequent coverup.
“With this ongoing investigation, the ACLU of Louisiana is concerned with LSP having any hand in investigating use of force cases by law enforcement in Orleans Parish. We have seen the brutality of LSP firsthand through our Justice Lab litigation. Our client, Glen Stewart, was violently and unjustifiably assaulted by Louisiana State Police officers working with Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office. Even after being handcuffed, Mr. Stewart was punched, tased, and beaten by LSP officers.
We know that LSP only reports decertifications and misconduct allegations that are sustained. However, pulling from broader data in the Visualizing Police Violence in Louisiana dashboard, we know that many similar allegations, including use of force, domestic violence, and sexual assault are regularly not sustained.
Further, the New Orleans Police Department is still under a consent decree, which dictates how illegal use of force incidents are investigated. We are concerned that LSP’s involvement could undermine this crucial decree designed to protect our communities from police violence and misconduct. Previously in 2017, when the Attorney General’s Office tried to make arrests in New Orleans, a federal judge said the actions were outside of that office's narrowly tailored statutory authority.
We oppose any plans for increased police presence in New Orleans and the disproportionate danger this places on our Black and Brown communities. According to our police violence database, we know the rate of Black individuals killed by police in Louisiana is more than 2.66 times that of white individuals. Of these police killings, there are no known criminal charges in 95% of deaths. Black and Brown people in New Orleans deserve to live without fear of state violence. More policing will lead to more cases of police violence.”