Deputy Constable Accused of Standing By During French Quarter Rape Suspended

New Orleans Police Department squad car at New Orleans Pride. New Orleans Pride Parade, 2016. Photo by Tony Webster | License

Last week, a series of now-viral tweets brought national attention to an officer allegedly standing by while witnesses say an unconscious woman was raped on a public street in the French Quarter. On Thursday, New Orleans Police Cheif Shaun Ferguson revealed that the officer was actually a deputy constable with the Second City Court.

Edwin Shorty, the elected Constable of Second City Court has confirmed that the man was off duty and working a paid security detail in the French Quarter. He has now been suspended indefinitely, without pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

“We are all shocked that anybody could get that kind of complaint and not respond timely,” Shorty said.

In Louisiana, constables are considered peace officers and have full arrest powers under state law. They wear a badge, carry a gun, have a police radio, and can act as trained law enforcement officers.

However, in addition to the deputy constable’s lack of response, NOPD is also investigating witness claims that an NOPD vehicle drove by the scene of the assault and did nothing.

“In our review of the evidence… we did see a vehicle drive by, but we cannot prove or disprove that our office could actually see that there was something going on at that intersection,” Ferguson told reporters.

According to the witness’ account posted to Twitter, “two NOPD officers drove by yet ignored the situation.” She then says she called 911 and flagged down the deputy constable, who chose not to respond, instead remaining in place on the street corner.

“When I made contact with the woman she was pulseless,” the witness account states. “As I pulled her into a flat position to begin CPR she regained a pulse and became agitated. Two NOPD officers responded and refused to administer Narcan despite my insistence & stating I am an ER Respiratory Therapist.”

The witness claims that the responding officers told her they needed the woman (who was unconscious at the time the alleged assault occurred) to state herself that she was being raped.

“At no time did an NOPD officer refuse assistance, fail to respond, or fail to take police action on reported sexual assaults,” Ferguson said during a press conference on Thursday. “We take any and all allegations seriously.”

According to the witness, she, her husband, “and at least 10 other bystanders” left the scene of the assault without being asked to give a report, or leave their personal information for follow-up questions or an investigation.

“It’s not because they don’t have the evidence – it’s because they simply don’t care,” the woman said.

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