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Friday, April 26, 2019

Attempted murder of police officer charge dropped after video shows gun accidentally discharged: NOPD


A crime scene technician takes photos in the store after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)A police unit leads the way for a New Orleans EMS ambulance as it takes the officer from the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Officers secure the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Investigators work the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Police cars block Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)An officer talks to someone in the back of a unit in the parking lot after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)New Orleans EMS takes the officer from the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)A crime scene technician takes photos of an evidence cone on Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Employees wait outside the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Officers secure the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Police cars block Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)NOPD officials gather on Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson addresses the media after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)A crime scene technician takes photos in the store after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)An evidence cone is place on Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)A crime scene technician takes photos of a pick-up by the gas pumps after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Investigators work the scene after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)Police cars block Tulane Avenue after a New Orleans Police Officer was shot in the leg while apprehending a suspect inside the Shell Station at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway on Thursday night, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

The New Orleans police officer who was shot in the leg earlier this month was struck by a bullet when he touched a gun in the waistband of a man the officer was trying to arrest, prompting the weapon to accidentally discharge, NOPD said on Friday (April 26).

The gunfire occurred while the officer struggled with a man, identified as NOPD as 18-year-old Michael Baker, inside a Mid-City gas station, at Tulane Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway, on April 11. Baker’s hand was “not on the weapon when it discharged,” NOPD spokesman Aaron Looney said in a statement sent Friday afternoon as an update sent to reporters about the investigation.

The wounded officer was shot in the right calf and was released from the hospital the following day, authorities said at the time.

NOPD said Friday the department asked the Orleans Parish District Attorney to drop a charge of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer against Baker after reviewing enhanced video of the encounter between Baker and the officer.

‘Screaming, and then a shot’: Cashier describes Mid-City shooting that injured police officer

The DA’s office dropped the charge Friday, and Baker now faces a less serious charge of illegal carrying of a firearm, NOPD said in the statement. Jail records, however, show Baker remained incarcerated at the Orleans Justice Center jail as of about 5 p.m. Friday on the charge attempted first-degree murder of a policeman and its associated $750,000 bond.

Friday’s statement says video evidence from the Shell gas station reviewed the night of the shooting, initially, “was inconclusive.”

“The footage was enhanced and slowed to show that when the officer put his hand on the weapon – which was concealed in Baker’s waistband – it discharges, striking the officer in the leg.”

Baker’s attorney, Brian Woods with the Orleans Public Defender’s office, noted at an April 19 bond hearing that NOPD’s arrest warrant for his client did not allege Baker pulled the trigger. Magistrate Commissioner Albert Thibodeaux told Woods at the time he made an “excellent observation and argument,” but ruled there was probable cause for Baker’s arrest based on the warrant.

The shooting occurred about 9:15 p.m., as officers responded to a call of a suspicious person at the gas station. The caller had reported that the suspicious person could be armed, NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said at the time.

Arriving at the Shell station, the NOPD officer spotted someone matching the description of the suspicious person and, while trying to pat the person down, became involved in a struggle that led to the gunfire.

Bond set at $750,000 for man accused in officer shooting at Mid-City gas station

Staff writer Heather Nolan contributed to this report.

. . . . . .
Emily Lane covers criminal justice in New Orleans for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Reach her at elane@nola.com. Follow her on Twitter (@emilymlane) or Facebook.
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