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J.P. Morrell to Hold Hearing on Potential Mardi Gras Police Brutality Case
State Senator J.P. Morrell has set a special hearing to review information about a Mardi Gras weekend altercation caught on video between state troopers and two young men.The hearing is scheduled to take place March 5 at 5 p.m. at the Southern University New Orleans, the senator said in a statement. The event will be held in the university gymnasium.
The hearing will examine a Feb. 10 French quarter beating caught on tape, which allegedly shows white law enforcement agents attacking two black men. In the video first seen on Fox 8-TV, the two black men sit on a building when nine plainclothes State Police officers approach them. The tape then shows the officers begin to beat the men.
One state police officer slings one of the men across the sidewalk as the rest then pile on top of both men. The incident took place in the 700 block of Conti St. after a parade, according to Fox 8.
The men, 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt, and 17-year-old Sidney Newman, were waiting for Hunt’s mother, a former New Orleans police officer, to return from getting food when the police approached them, Fox 8 reported. When Hunt’s mother came back, the police left the scene, according to the station.
Morrell has invited representatives from the State Troopers, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP to attend the event. Members of the House Judiciary and Administration of Criminal Justice Committees will also join Morrell in examining the incident.
In a statement issued Feb. 20., Councilwoman Susan Guidry said she was also concerned by events depicted in the video.
"It does not appear from the video that the young men posed a threat to the officers or to the public," Guidry said.
Guidry also said that the State Police and the FBI are investigating the case.
She said that a New Orleans Police officer was part of the plain clothes police team, but that the cop “appeared to have no direct involvement” in the incident “other than being physically present.
Guidry also said that she hopes to address the events of the show in tape during a future meeting of City Council’s criminal justice committee.
Update: 3-7-13: For more information on what transpired at the hearing, read Brutality Hearing Puts Pressure on LA Law Enforcement.
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