Louisiana State Police drew their guns on a man during a traffic stop and threw him to the ground even though he had done nothing wrong, and now the agency is saying that, “as a courtesy,” it is not charging the man with a crime.
Shamarr Allen, a popular New Orleans musician, was pulled over early in the morning on July 23. During the stop, an officer pulled a gun on him and, Allen claims, another said, “You move one time, I’m going to blow your head off.”
Allen’s story was widely reported in the local media. Police disputed his claims that they mishandled the 33-year-old trumpet player.
The agency released video of the incident to the media on Tuesday.
Police had set up a checkpoint in New Orleans’ lower 9th ward where they were searching for a man who escaped while being processed into the city jail.
Allen had dropped a friend off at home after a gig, and rather than driving through the checkpoint, he turned his vehicle around and drove the other way.
Police found the activity suspicious, and a trooper sped after Allen’s car in pursuit.
Dashcam video from the cruiser shows that trooper rushing to Allen’s car with his service weapon drawn. Several officers are seen rushing to the vehicle as well, pulling Allen out of it on pushing him to the ground where he is handcuffed and walked over to the cruiser.
Superintendent of State police Mike Edmonson says that the video shows that his officers acted properly given that they were searching for a jail escapee. He also says that Allen was not complying with troopers’ demands, though the video does not show much resistance on Allen’s part.
“My staff and I have reviewed the tape many times and I support the actions of the Troopers on the scene,” Edmonson said in a statement.
“They used control tactics designed to manage an individual who was non-compliant and resisting. In my view those tactics were appropriate and measured in application,” he said, while calling the tactics “unfortunate.”
“But the video shows that every control maneuver used by Troopers was in response to Allen’s behavior and resistance,” he said, while also calling claims Allen made that he was racially profiled “spurious” and “inflammatory.”
Allen is black. The officers involved appear to all be white.
“It’s just wrong,” Allen told the New Orleans Times-Picayune after watching the video Tuesday. “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do none of that. I don’t live wrong at all. It’s just, this is the life of a black man in the Lower 9th Ward.”
Responding to Edmonson’s claim that he resisted officers, Allen said “there was no chance to resist.”
“By the time they got on the car, they pulled me out the car. There wasn’t any resistance.”
In his statement, Edmonson maintained that his troopers did not batter Allen.
“It should be noted that at no time was Allen struck, hit or kicked as he claims,” Edmonson said. “The tape belies his version of what happened. He was not thrown to the ground, he was not thrown onto the hood of the car, he did not have a boot on his neck.”
However, the video of the incident does show that troopers used force when they pushed – if not threw – Allen to the ground. He was also pushed with force on the hood of the car. The video does not show troopers putting a boot on Allen’s neck, though a trooper placed a knee in his upper back while handcuffing him.
Adding insult to injury, Louisiana State Police suggested that they did Allen a favor by not issuing him a citation. Troopers released Allen after about 30 minutes.
“Allen’s license information and the license plate on the vehicle are recorded for future reference,” the agency’s press release said.
“Troopers elect not to cite Allen for any violations as a courtesy and in view of the more important priority of returning to the task of searching for the felon who escaped.”