The driver who crashed into a parked New Orleans police car on Interstate 10 last week, killing Officer Natasha Hunter, had a blood-alcohol content that was twice the legal limit, authorities said Wednesday.
Toxicology results showed the driver, Chau Thai Nguyen, 33, had a blood-alcohol content of .16 percent after a night of drinking at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino and perhaps another site, according to newly filed court documents. The collision happened June 5 on Interstate 10 eastbound near Esplanade Avenue, where Hunter was helping in the aftermath of an earlier crash.
Nguyen, who admitted having several drinks at the casino, has been booked on counts of vehicular homicide and reckless operation in Hunter’s death. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
New Orleans police recently obtained a search warrant for “any and all video surveillance footage” showing Nguyen inside the casino and driving away from the building. In their application for the warrant, police said Nguyen also had “visited another establishment (the night of the crash) and consumed several more alcoholic beverages.”
Nguyen’s defense attorney, Nandi Campbell, declined to comment on the case. She has asked a magistrate judge to reduce Nguyen’s bail, a request that is scheduled to be heard in court next week.
Tyler Gamble, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman, said police do not intend to book Nguyen on any additional counts based on the toxicology results. “Vehicular homicide is the maximum charge allowed in this incident,” he said.
Nguyen faces up to 30 years if convicted. Because his blood-alcohol content was greater than .15 percent, at least five years of his prison sentence would have to be served “without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence” under Louisiana law.
Hunter, 32, was an 11-year veteran of the NOPD with a 5-year-old daughter. She was buried Monday.
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