By Natasha Robin | WVUE | February 22, 2023
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -15 people, arrested for illegally carrying a weapon during Carnival, walked free when the Orleans District Attorney’s office refused the charges.
“I’ve never seen this happen before,” says Rafael Goyeneche. “The charges were refused on the spot by the District Attorney’s Office before a police report was generated.”
According to the docket master, the refusals happened on Fat Tuesday after the NOPD arrested several people for illegally carrying a weapon.
“And the offender was allowed to be released from custody with no bail with the condition they surrender their firearm,” says Goyeneche.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission found more than a dozen cases, each docket master stated, “The state refused charges with the condition that the defendant not get his gun back.”
One case was the arrest of LSU starting wide receiver Malik Nabers, booked with illegally carrying a weapon in the French Quarter Monday night.
Another case involved a man arrested for illegally having machine guns.
“At a time when the police department said, and the Mayor even responded, to the fact that they were going to crack down on people bringing firearms into the French Quarter and to the parade routes, and not only were they going to be arrested but they would be prosecuted and come to find out the police department kept their word and made a number of significant arrests of weapon offenses,” says Goyeneche.
On Mardi Gras night, Superintendent Woodfork commended her officers for taking 157 guns off the street during Carnival.
“The Chief mentioned the guns taken off the street. That is something we should be proud of, and focus on continuing to get guns off the street in which we are,” Mayor Cantrell.
Goyeneche believes the D.A. refusals hurt NOPD morale and the community’s confidence in the justice system.
“So, if we’re wondering why police officers are leaving the force and why it’s so hard to recruit officers when the police make an arrest and the District Attorney’s Office refuses charges without even giving police the consideration to submit their report to justify this arrest, they find out the charges are refused. We are wasting tax payer money,” says Goyeneche.
When FOX 8 contacted the NOPD for comment, they referred us to the D.A.’s office.
“This is something that I think the District Attorney’s Office owes an explanation to the public as to why they chose to do this,” says Goyeneche.
The D.A.’s office released this statement to FOX 8.
“When faced with a no probable cause finding by the court, which could have resulted in a gun being released back to community, the ADA insisted upon the weapons’ forfeiture in an effort to keep those guns off the street. These misdemeanor gun arrests are extremely important to reducing shootings in our community. 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.”
There is no indication on the docket master that the court found ‘no probable cause’ on any of the cases refused by the D.A.