A son of a veteran New Orleans Police Department officer who is now the subject of an internal probe related to accused cop-killer Travis Boys’ flight from capture last week says neither Officer Jeardine Daniels-Sparks nor Lazandy Daniels, another son whom police have questioned, knew Boys or did anything to help him hide out.
Steven Daniels said his brother found an unfamiliar set of clothes outside a vacant house his mother owns on North Derbigny Street, less than two blocks from where Officer Daryle Holloway was slain. Lazandy Daniels gave the clothes to his mother, who brought them to the 5th District police station the day after her fellow officer was gunned down inside his police vehicle.
Police are investigating whether the clothes belong to Boys, who now faces a first-degree murder count in Holloway’s killing. As of late Thursday, police had announced no arrests of anyone accused of helping him in his flight.
“My brother found the clothes in the driveway behind, like, a bookcase right outside the front step,” Steven Daniels said in an interview with The New Orleans Advocate.
“He didn’t think nothing of it. He brought it to my mother. The next morning, thinking about what he told her, she says, ‘Hold up, this might be this fool,’ thinking about (how Holloway’s shooting) was in the area,” he added. “She said, ‘Let me go ahead and bring these clothes in to the district.’ ”
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison confirmed the PIB probe into Daniels-Sparks, a 38-year veteran now assigned to fiscal management. He said PIB has interviewed the officer and her son and is investigating whether the son had anything to do with “the amount of time (Boys) was at large.”
Meanwhile, Holloway’s uncle said it seems evident from a police report that the NOPD officers who arrested Boys early on the morning of June 20, eventually landing him in Holloway’s backseat, botched the job.
David Belfield, a local defense attorney whose sister is Holloway’s mother, said the report indicates that officers who responded to a call from Boys’ wife, alleging he shot at her with a black semi-automatic handgun, seemed never to follow up on that allegation.
The report says police took the wife’s .38-caliber revolver from her but makes no mention of seizing the weapon she said Boys used to shoot her.
Police turned up a .40-caliber spent shell casing at a neighboring residence and took it as evidence, along with the wife’s gun and five live .38 rounds from it. Officers ultimately handed the .38 over to Holloway, who had volunteered to log the evidence and transport Boys to jail on suspicion of aggravated assault.
“They never questioned her, and they never questioned him about the whereabouts of the black semi-automatic handgun,” Belfield said. “They blew it. The question has always been from my family: Where did the gun come from? He had it all along, and they never searched. My sister read that last night, and she screamed.”
Police have said Boys shot Holloway once in the right side of his chest with a .40-caliber handgun.
NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said ballistics tests are still pending that might determine a link between the spent .40-caliber shell casing from the incident in the 2500 block of Peace Street and either the weapon used to shoot the 22-year veteran officer or the bullet that killed him.
Police have said they continue to investigate how Boys, who has a history of escaping from law enforcement custody, managed to get hold of the weapon he allegedly used to shoot Holloway inside his police SUV.
They said Boys at some point squeezed through a barrier port and into the front seat. A struggle ensued as the wounded officer sought to keep Boys from escaping from the vehicle at North Claiborne and Elysian Fields avenues.
While the police SUV crashed into a pole with Holloway expiring in the driver’s seat, Boys ran off downriver on North Claiborne, igniting a 24-hour multiple-agency manhunt that ended in the Lower 9th Ward.
Police are now looking into whether Boys earlier took refuge at one of two properties on North Derbigny Street owned by Daniels-Sparks, the NOPD veteran.
Sources with knowledge of the Public Integrity Bureau probe say Daniels-Sparks turned in Boys’ clothes at the 5th District station, where she once worked. Police also have questioned Lazandy Daniels, 38, who separately faces a pending drug distribution count for allegedly selling crack cocaine out of his mother’s house in the 2200 block of North Derbigny.
Steven Daniels said his brother isn’t making any public comments for fear police will use them against him in his criminal case. But he insisted that his brother doesn’t know Boys.
“Nope,” he said when twice asked the question.
Police have not confirmed that the clothing Daniels-Sparks brought in belonged to Boys. But police later searched the backyards and, according to a WWL-TV report, found a metal link from handcuffs on the property, along with bolt cutters.
Steven Daniels said his brother owned a set of bolt cutters but that he wasn’t sure they were the ones police suspect were used to cut loose Boys’ shackles.
Lazandy Daniels’ attorney in the drug case, Lawrence Galle, did not return repeated calls this week seeking comment.
“He’s not in trouble. It’s just the point; they’re trying to make a big deal out of something that ain’t really nothing,” Steven Daniels said, adding that he suspects foul play by police in the suggestion his brother was involved with Boys.
“We don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s gotta be the same reason they trying to hook my brother up with possession of crack. They’re trying to build a case on my brother, trying to set him up over a previous thing because they know they did wrong,” Steven Daniels said.
He said the abandoned homes owned by their mother have become a locus of drug activity.
Lazandy Daniels remains free on $15,000 bond following his arrest on May 4 on a cocaine distribution count.
According to a police report, 5th District police officers working surveillance spotted him standing by a gold-colored vehicle in front of his mother’s house on the 8th Ward block — his listed address — when he sold a woman cocaine. Officers arrested Lazandy Daniels as he sat in a pickup truck in front of 2259 N. Derbigny St.
Civil service records show that their mother has faced some stiff departmental discipline over the years, in one case for trying to help her son.
Then-NOPD Superintendent Richard Pennington handed her an 85-day suspension in 2001, accusing her of showing up in uniform while off-duty at a Municipal Court hearing on behalf of her son, who faced a criminal charge.
According to her suspension letter, Daniels-Sparks “ignored the judge’s instructions to you by speaking to your son while the judge was speaking to you,” while saying she was there as a cop and not a mother. Daniels-Sparks also lied about why she was there and used profane language, the suspension letter states.
The record does not indicate which of her sons was in court that day in May 2000.
While police look into whether Boys simply hopped into an abandoned yard or got help, the 33-year-old accused cop-killer remained jailed Thursday without bail following his indictment on first-degree murder charges. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office has said it will seek the death penalty for Boys.
The report on the Boys case that emerged this week describes only the police response to the alleged crime that landed him in custody, after his wife accused him of shooting at her after he’d come home about 3:30 a.m. and she told him to leave.
“Mrs. Boys stated Mr. Boys became upset and pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at her and stated, ‘ I’m going to kill you!’ ” the report says.
She said he fired at her and she ran out before calling police, the report states. Police came to the house, handcuffed Boys and arrested him.
Boys told police that his wife “pointed her .38 special at him and told him to leave the residence.” His wife acknowledged owning a .38-caliber Taurus revolver, and police took it, removing five live rounds, according to the report.
Though the report says officers found a spent .40-caliber casing next door, it does not say the officers turned up the gun she described. Officers took Boys to the 5th District station, read him his rights and kept him in the backseat of a police car while they finished the paperwork.
That’s when Holloway asked them, “What you working?” and offered to transport Boys to jail, the report states. As another officer pulled Boys from the back of the patrol car, he noticed that Boys had managed to move his shackled hands from the back to front of his body.
The officers switched out the cuffs, shackled Boys’ wrists behind him with double-locked handcuffs and placed him in the back of Unit 14045, Holloway’s police SUV.
Belfield, the slain officer’s uncle, said it appears from the report that Boys’ story sidetracked the cops.
“He shifts the attention from what she called in about, which was him shooting the black semi-automatic handgun at her, to the .38,” Belfield said. “They get the .38 special, they think, ‘Ballgame over.’ ”
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.