By WWL Staff | WWL-TV | February 23, 2023
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s Lt. Governor slammed the prosecutors’ decision to refuse charges against almost two dozen individuals who were arrested in New Orleans on Lundi Gras.
Court documents revealed that the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office refused charges in 19 cases, including 15 cases against individuals accused of illegally carrying weapons.
In an interview with on Eyewitness Morning News on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser panned the decision to refuse charges as removing consequences for criminals.
“There’s no consequences. They go out and buy another gun,” Nungesser said. “Shame on the people that let them go. When they kill someone, because they will, because they had no consequences for carrying a gun in the first place.”
One of those cases was against LSU football star Malik Nabers who was accused of illegally carrying a weapon on Bourbon Street. At Nabers’ first court appearance on Mardi Gras, an attorney with the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office refused charges on the condition that the gun was not returned to Nabers.
“I’ve never seen a prosecutor do this. If a prosecutor did this without the knowledge and approval of their boss, which is the DA, I would be surprised if they still had a job the next day,” said Rafael Goyeneche, the president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Goyeneche added that typically the district attorney’s office would set bail at first court appearances. Then law enforcement would submit a report to prosecutors and the case would be screened to determine if the DA chooses to pursue the case.
Goyeneche said the decision to refuse the case was made without knowing all its facts.
“These are people that the police determined they did not have a concealed carry permit, were in violation of state law and they made the arrest. So, they did their job, but the District Attorney’s office, in my opinion, didn’t do their job,” Goyeneche said.
The dropped charges come after New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the city’s police department urged people to leave their guns at home during Carnival and that police would be cracking down on illegal gun possession.
In a statement to WWL-TV, the district attorney’s office responded with this statement:
“When faced with a no probable cause finding by the court, the ADA made decisions that would increase safety in our city like requiring defendants to forfeit their weapons. To be clear, these cases will still be screened by the DA’s Office and evaluated in coordination with the law enforcement entities responsible for the arrest.
As always, the DA’s Office is proud of and grateful for all of the hard work of the men and women of the local and state law enforcement agencies throughout this Mardi Gras season. It’s their tireless efforts to keep illegally-concealed firearms off our streets and out of the hands of drunken revelers that prevented an untold number of shootings.
“Where we can push these cases from the probable cause of their arrests to beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction, we absolutely will. And, where we can’t, we will still do everything in our power to keep these guns from falling into the hands of the irresponsible.”
Goyeneche said that without charges being pressed against them, some of the arrested individuals could still be entitled to their property.
“In some of the cases, the arrests may not have been lawful under the probable cause standard which means those arrested subjects were entitled to receive their firearms back,” Goyeneche said.
“Take the gun away. Let them go home. They’ll go buy another gun until they kill someone. They won’t spend any time in jail,” Nungesser said.
New Orleans saw two separate shootings at Carnival events in recent days that left two people dead. On Sunday, gunfire broke out along the Bacchus parade route, leaving a teenager dead and four others injured, including a 4-year-old girl. Police quickly arrested Mansour Mbodj, 21, for illegally carrying a weapon, then upgraded the charge to second-degree murder. And on Mardi Gras, a 50-year-old woman was killed in a shooting on Claiborne Avenue where hundreds gather to celebrate Fat Tuesday.