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New Roads officer negligently discharges weapon, questions raised over investigation

8 months 3 weeks 4 days ago March 11, 2016 Mar 11, 2016 Friday, March 11 2016 March 11, 2016 8:00 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

NEW ROADS - A City of New Roads Police officer is on administrative leave tonight after he accidentally discharged his weapon after responding to a scene in his personal vehicle.

The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon, and tonight questions are being raised about the way the City of New Roads handled the investigation.

Details on exactly what transpired are murky since police are investigating the situation themselves. But, one thing is certain. Some believe the New Roads Police Department should have called an outside agency to investigate the incident.

"It appears to be a cover-up," Attorney Jerry D'Aquila said.

That's how New Roads Attorney Jerry D'Aquila describes what happened in the city limits this week involving a 15-year-old boy. D'Aquila is representing the boy's family.

"Two juvenile males are pointing bb guns at people by Rosenwald School," 911 police radio traffic stated on the day of the incident. "Highway 10 and St. Jude, negligent discharge," you can hear the officer who fired his weapon say.

Denise Johnson claims her 15-year-old son, Dequan Johnson is lucky to be alive today, after coming into contact with that off duty officer.

"He tried to kill him," Johnson said. "That's what he wanted to do."

New Roads Police identified the officer involved as Matt Donnin. He's been with the department for about a year, and is part-time. The way the department handled the investigation into the shooting is concerning to those in the legal community, and the family. After the shooting was reported, the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office says when they showed up, the scene had already been dismantled, and there was nothing to investigate. The mother watched as New Roads Police took everything down, and no outside agency was called to investigate.

"It smells like a cover-up when that happens," D'Aquila said. "The good people of New Roads, you come here all the time, we have a nice community, why would the police department want to cover up something? They should be the first one that want it investigated out in the open, so the public knows what happened."

"They should have left the crime scene the way it was, but they tried to hurry up and cover up and thought I wasn't going to do anything about it...that's why," Johnson said.

Police Chief Kevin McDonald was unavailable for an on camera interview. He did say the police officer fired the shot through the window of his personal car. He's appointed by New Roads Mayor Robert Myer.

"Don't put me on camera," Myer said.

We caught up with Myer as he was leaving city hall. Myer told me he was aware of this situation.

"We're going to follow whatever state requirements are," Myer said.

When asked why three days passed and another outside agency was called to come in, Myer said, "I can't comment on something I don't know about."

Tonight, the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office says it has nothing to investigate since the city dismantled the scene. Many are wondering how fair the investigation will be since the city of New Roads is investigating itself.

"Any investigation going to be conducted should have been done by an independent police organization. like State Police," D'Aquila said. "They took it on themselves to conduct their own investigation. I don't' know who orchestrated it."

Last year, we showed you in another investigation nearly half of the New Roads Police Department is not Post Certified with weapons training. We checked on the post certification of Officer Donnin. But, since state offices were closed due to the weather today, we couldn't get that information for this story."

The 15-year-old who was carrying the bb gun was taken to a juvenile detention center. He was charged with criminal mischief and possession of a firearm. It's unclear how long the officer will be on leave.

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