By Kimberly Curth | WVUE | September 24, 2020
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) – The FBI is now involved in the murder investigation of a New Orleans man at the center of a Federal investigation. Someone killed Cornelius Garrison just days after the Feds indicted him in a sprawling probe involving staged tractor-trailer accidents.
The FBI confirms to Fox 8, “FBI New Orleans has been in contact with New Orleans Police Department regarding the homicide of Cornelius Garrison as this is an ongoing investigation we have no further comment at this time.”
We also spoke with Garrison’s Federal public defender, Claude Kelly, who calls the timing of Garrison’s murder, “awfully suspicious.”
Someone shot and killed Garrison Tuesday night on Foy Street in Gentilly. Four days earlier, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Garrison in a 7-count Federal indictment accusing him of staging over 50 car accidents to defraud commercial carriers and their insurance companies.
The Feds referred to Garrison as a “slammer” because they say he would intentionally strike 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles in their blind spot, usually on I-10 and at night so there were fewer potential witnesses.
The Feds say an unnamed co-conspirator paid Garrison more than $150,000. The Federal indictment also alleges that same co-conspirator instructed Garrison to avoid areas patrolled by the Louisiana State Police and instead stage accidents under the jurisdiction of the NOPD.
Two so called other “Slammers” involved in the case are dead. Prosecutors say they routinely worked together to stage accidents for various local personal injury attorneys.
“A lot of the old guys in the French Quarter used to say there’s no such thing as a coincidence, here we clearly have a motive, some people would have to suspect that this guy would have to testify against other people, so, whoever those other people maybe, I would say they’re going to be looked at,” said Fox 8 Legal Analyst, Joe Raspanti.
“Mr. Garrison was indicted a week ago Friday, four days later he was murdered in his apartment, so, the Government doesn’t know yet if his murder was related to this Federal case but they’re engaged and they will remain engaged with the NOPD’s murder investigation until they determine if his murder is in any way connected to this Federal case,” said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Garrison’s public defender says he’s devastated and disturbed by Garrison’s killing, calling it a tragedy. He represented him for months and says he got to know him very well.
Kelly says Garrison was a family man who talked about his kids. He also says the 54-year-old was concerned for his safety, something Kelly points out is not uncommon in situations like this.
But, Kelley finds Garrison’s murder very troubling considering he was killed less than a week after he was indicted in that Federal probe.