A New Orleans police officer got his job back earlier today after he was fired in 2014 for shooting at a suspect that supposedly had a gun during a high speed chase.
The investigation revealed that the suspect did not have a gun and was actually attempting to flee from the officer, but the New Orlean’s Civil Service Commission cited a lack of evidence to support the officer’s firing, reports WWL.
The officer’s attorney Kevin Boshea said his client was eager to return to police work.
Isaiah Shannon was a six-year veteran officer with the New Orlean’s Police Department when in 2013 he encountered a Chevrolet Impala in what he described as a high-crime area. Shannon was on a special task force designated to target hot zone crime areas.
The two occupants in the Impala were not wearing seat belts, so Officer Shannon and the other officers on scene attempted to make a traffic stop.
The driver of the Impala refused to stop as it ran several stop signs and red lights, eventually losing control and crashing into a pickup truck.
Officers were then able to force the driver out of the car and onto the ground.
But the passenger identified as Terrell Chapman ignored Shannon’s commands not to move and instead reached for a gun jumped in the back seat and ran from the vehicle, according to the officer.
Shannon said when he saw Chapman reaching, he pulled out his department-issued gun and fired a shot at Chapman, narrowly missing him.
But higher ranking officer Lt. Ken Burns stated that Shannon shot at Chapman after he was already out of the vehicle and running away.
There was private surveillance video that captured the encounter, but the footage was grainy and without audio. The video revealed Chapman exiting the vehicle and the crowd reacting to a gunshot.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison fired Officer Shannon in November 2014, citing an unauthorized use of force and a violation of the department’s truthfulness policy.
The superintendent’s inclination to fire Shannon relied on the private surveillance video, witness statements, and the lack of a bullet mark in the Impala.
Shannon appealed his firing and cited that the witness statements were biased because the witness’ disliked him because he was a police officer. Civil Service Commissioner Clifton Moore Jr. found that argument “speculative but plausible.”
Moore also cited that the commission “does not regard the hearsay evidence collected by investigators to be competent,” additionally stating that “the video evidence is not as compelling or conclusive as NOPD believes it to be.”
“Given the totality of circumstances, the commission finds that (Shannon) reasonably believed that Chapman posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury if he were to obtain possession of the handgun,” the ruling said.
On Wednesday the commission ruled to grant Shannon his job back, along with 3 years of backpay.