Richard Abbott, a state Fire Marshal’s Office captain under indictment in Orleans Parish on a charge of pistol-whipping a man outside a French Quarter bar in July, has tendered his resignation, Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Brant Thompson said Wednesday.
Abbott, 48, faces an aggravated battery count in the July 18 incident outside the Three-Legged Dog bar at Burgundy and Conti streets, near his home.
He could not be reached Wednesday, and his attorney, Arthur “Buddy” Lemann, declined to comment.
Thompson said Abbott will remain on paid administrative leave until his resignation takes effect Oct. 23.
An internal investigation being run through the State Police likely will fall by the wayside with Abbott’s resignation, which was tendered in a letter last week, Thompson said.
“He indicated in that document his intent to vigorously defend himself against what he characterized as baseless allegations,” Thompson said. “He felt that this served as a distraction to the department and that he intended to pursue other opportunities.”
Speaking outside an Orleans Parish courtroom in early September, Abbott said he was provoked into striking a 37-year-old man with his loaded .357-caliber revolver while off-duty.
Abbott said he had gone to the “dog-friendly” bar with his duty dog, Crash, a 7-year-old Labrador-pit bull mix. He said he struck up a conversation with a man and let Crash loose in the bar. While he was distracted, he said, “They took and hid my dog, called me out into the street and told me he’d been hit by a car. They said my dog’s dead.”
A scuffle ensued, Abbott said, and one of the group reached behind him to where Abbott had placed his weapon. A police report says Abbott kept the handgun in the rear pocket of his shorts.
“They attempted to grab my weapon,” Abbott said. “I secured my weapon and used it as an impact weapon to get them off me.”
Abbott said he later learned Crash had been lured into the kitchen.
A state grand jury indicted Abbott days after an Orleans Parish magistrate commissioner found no probable cause for the charges.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office in early September dropped an additional charge of possession of a firearm in an alcoholic beverage outlet, after Lemann cited a recent state statute that exempts law enforcement officers from a ban on carrying guns in bars, whether on duty or off.
Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter has set an Oct. 7 hearing on a motion by Abbott to quash the aggravated battery count.
Crash has been reassigned to another handler in the office, Thompson said.
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