Shamarr Allen said he was simply trying to avoid trouble when the trouble started last week.
The local trumpet player said he had just dropped off a friend at his home in the Lower 9th Ward when he saw State Police clustered near Chartres Street and Caffin Avenue in the Lower 9th Ward about 2:30 a.m. July 23.
In an effort to avoid any confrontation, Allen said, he turned around and tried to find another way out of the neighborhood.
State Police, however, said he threw his car into reverse, arousing the suspicion of troopers who were searching for someone who had escaped from their custody after being arrested in the New Orleans Police Department’s 8th District, which includes the Central Business District, French Quarter and Marigny.
Troopers, in town to supplement New Orleans police after the recent Bourbon Street mass shooting, chased down Allen and pulled him over.
That much is agreed upon on both sides.
Much of the remainder of the stop involves conflicting accounts.
Allen said he was pulled from his car, manhandled, slammed into his car and a State Police vehicle, and tossed on the ground despite being “very, very compliant.
“Everything they asked me to do, I did,” he said.
A State Police spokesman, however, said troopers met resistance and Allen was “very noncompliant.”
Allen would not show his hands and kept them tucked underneath him, Lt. J.B. Slaton said.
The troopers who stopped Allen did not know who he was because of his lack of cooperation, Slaton said.
They pulled him out of his car using “controlled techniques,” handcuffed him and spoke to him to determine who he was and why he had tried to flee, Slaton said.
“I did not resist in any way. I know from past experience in dealing with police officers, if you resist in any way, you’re going to jail,” Allen said. “Why didn’t I go to jail? Why didn’t I get anything if I was doing so much wrong?”
Troopers removed the handcuffs a short time later and released Allen, choosing not to issue him a citation “out of courtesy,” Slaton said.
Allen, however, contends the encounter was much rougher and had him fearing for his life.
One of the half-dozen or so troopers, he said, pulled out a gun and pointed it at his head while troopers yelled at him not to move.
Slaton said a review of video shot from the dashboard of a camera in one of the State Police units debunks that claim.
Allen said the trooper brandishing the gun must have been out of the camera’s line of sight.
He said he had trouble telling the troopers who he was and what he was doing because they were all shouting at him at the same time.
Allen said the troopers also made him unlock his cellphone so they could search it, which he allowed, but that they also searched his car, which he said he did not authorize and for which they had no warrant.
Once troopers were able to determine his identity, that he was dropping off a friend after playing a gig with the Treme Brass Band at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street and that he was not wanted by authorities, he was released.
Allen said they told him not to return to the area or he would face arrest, but he said he teaches music lessons to children and teenagers there on Tuesday evenings, so he will be back in the area.
“I’m not going to not go there because I feel it’s part of my responsibility from being down there,” Allen said.
He said he is not looking for any more trouble with troopers but that he wants to bring awareness to alleged police brutality, particularly against black males.
“I just want to shed some light on something that goes on over and over,” he said.
The claims are not the first time in recent years that State Police have been accused of brutality while in New Orleans.
During Carnival 2013, nine plainclothes troopers and one New Orleans police officer were recorded slamming two black men to the ground in the 700 block of Conti Street.
An internal investigation found no wrongdoing on the troopers’ part.
State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said at the time that the troopers suspected the men were violating curfew. One, though, was 17, and the other was 18, meaning they were not subject to curfew regulations.
Edmonson said the use of force was justified because one of the men tried to run and the other reached into his pants pocket.
Slaton said State Police have tried to make contact with Allen since the incident but have had no luck.
“Basically we’re waiting to get in touch with him ... to see how he wants to move forward,” Slaton said.
Allen said he was out of town in recent days but that State Police had not contacted him.
“No one called me; no one contacted me. My cellphone number was the title of my last album,” he said, suggesting that he is not hard to get in touch with.
On Monday, Allen went to the NOPD to file a complaint with the Public Integrity Bureau, to be forwarded to State Police.
Slaton said State Police have not received any formal complaints about the incident and that to open any investigation, Allen must file a complaint directly with them.
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.