Trumpeter Shamarr Allen, arrested Thursday evening for allegedly punching a deputy in the head before Allen was set to perform a show at a local park, pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of battery of a police officer.
The dust-up stemmed from an argument Allen, 34, had with the deputy about getting his family past a security checkpoint before a Jazz in the Park concert at Armstrong Park, according to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office and a concert producer.
The brief altercation came after Allen’s mother either fell or was pushed to the ground.
This is the second time in recent months that Allen has had a run-in with law enforcement. In July, he accused State Police of roughing him up during a traffic stop in the Lower 9th Ward. An internal State Police review found that the claim was unwarranted.
Allen’s publicist declined comment on the latest incident Friday. The musician also declined comment as he sat in Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet’s courtroom.
Philip Stelly, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Allen punched Deputy Thomas Elder in the head several times while trying to get relatives past a security checkpoint even though they did not have the proper backstage passes.
Ben Harwood, one of the concert’s producers, said the incident lasted only a few seconds. “It was very fast,” he said. “Like a flash of an altercation where it was sort of unclear sort of who was provoking who.”
He said relatives of the performers are regularly allowed backstage with the proper credentials, which Allen’s family did not have but were in the process of obtaining.
Allen “was being a bit impatient” and became upset that the deputy would not let his family backstage until they had the passes, Harwood said.
Emanuel Lain Jr., who founded the concert series, said Allen then declared he didn’t want to do the show anymore and stalked away, at which point his mother fell down.
Harwood said it wasn’t clear if she fell on her own or was knocked down, but at that point, the argument between Allen and Elder quickly escalated into a scuffle, with at least one punch being thrown. “This just kind of got out of hand,” Harwood said.
Elder was taken to a hospital to be examined. Allen was booked into jail about 8 p.m.
The incident remains under investigation, Stelly said.
While Allen was booked on a state charge, it is a misdemeanor, and moving those cases to Municipal Court is a common practice.
His bail first was set at $10,000 by Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny, according to jail records.
It later was reduced to $100 by Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo, records indicated.
“I think a $100 cash bond is inadequate on a case I’m overseeing,” Charbonnet said during an afternoon hearing at which she raised the bail to $3,000 and ordered Allen to stay away from Elder.
Allen remained jailed Friday evening while waiting to post the new bond.
He is due back in court Oct. 6.
Lain said it was the first time there has been any such confrontation at a Jazz in the Park concert.
“This is a family event, and we never had an incident like this,” he said.
Harwood said Allen had performed for the concert series before without any problems.
Harwood said he and other concert organizers had not yet discussed whether Allen will be invited to perform in the future.
WWL-TV reporter Bill Capo contributed to this report. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.