June 27, 2023
Written by: FOX 8 Staff
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – In a letter written to the chairman of the board for the Orleans Parish Communication District, the president and vice president of the City Council are requesting the immediate suspension of the 911 center’s executive director.
Tyrell Morris announced his resignation from his OPCD position on Monday, June 26. His last day in office was set to be on September 15.
In Council Vice President Helena Moreno’s letter, she mentions questions surrounding a recent crash involving Morris’ taxpayer-funded vehicle, of which no police report was filed.
“There are questions regarding Mr. Morris’ failure to submit a required drug and alcohol screening and to obtain a police report, and according to metadata, altering an official OPCD Vehicle Policy to make it appear he was not required to get screened for drugs and alcohol after a qualifying accident,” she writes. “Injuring public records is a crime under LA RS 14:132.”
l Morris’ vehicle was seen in his driveway with visible front-end damage. When asked, an attorney who handles public records requests for the OPCD said “it is my understanding that the NOPD did not prepare a police report in connection with the recent accident involving Director Morris’ vehicle.”
“In light of this information, we respectfully request the OPCD Board of Directors suspend Mr. Morris effective immediately pending a full investigation into the actions related to and stemming from Mr. Morris’ car accident,” the letter concludes.
“Allegedly, there was an accident that occurred off-duty on a weekend, in which Mr. Morris and another vehicle were involved in an accident, two vehicles hitting,” said Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission. “And what’s supposed to happen, since he was in a communications district vehicle, under the policy that’s been in place at least since May 14 of 2019, if a communications district vehicle is involved in an accident the employee driving… that employee has to immediately report it and submit to a blood, alcohol, and drug test. So, that was the existing policy that was in place.”
“The document that was produced to the media contained four additional words and that was ‘if injuries are reported’ the operator of the OPCD vehicle must take a drug and alcohol test as soon as possible. So the question becomes when was the document that was produced to the media and represented as the official policies of the communication district, when was that document altered, and by who’s orders?”
Goyeneche says the city’s inspector general is investigating all things related to the accident.
“They’re going to have to establish when this additional language was added to this paragraph and under who’s orders?” said Goyeneche.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell did not take questions about Morris at a Tuesday press conference called to talk about the heat wave. At her routine press conference Wednesday she said she would deal with the allegations at the conclusion of the investigation.
“These are allegations,” she said. “That is why an investigation is warranted. An investigation will take place and we will deal with it at that time. But allegations are allegations and I’m very clear that they’re not always accurate.”
Meanwhile, Goyeneche says there is a myriad of unanswered questions surrounding the accident.
“We don’t know if Mr. Morris, because he was involved in this accident, attributed the damages to the car to the other driver and if so…. who’s responsible for paying for the repair to the vehicle that he was driving which was a public vehicle? I don’t know if those vehicles are insured or if they’re self-insured by the communication district,” he said.