A New Orleans police officer was suspended without pay Monday after she was arrested and accused of trying to run down her husband with her car during an argument.
Stephanie Caldwell, 33, was booked on several counts including aggravated assault, authorities said.
According to a statement from the Police Department, Caldwell and her husband got into an argument in the 1700 block of North Broad Street about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.
During the argument, Caldwell tried to hit her husband, who ran away on foot, police alleged in court documents.
Caldwell followed her husband in a silver Jaguar and in the process drove against traffic on North Broad and Onzaga streets before she struck a parked car, police said. She stopped only after hitting a wooden utility pole on Rousselin Drive, police said.
Neither Caldwell nor her husband was injured, police said.
Caldwell was booked with aggravated assault, simple battery, reckless operation of a vehicle, hit-and-run and driving against traffic, the department said.
Criminal District Court records, however, indicate only two charges will be heard in state court: battery and aggravated assault.
She was free Monday on $2,000 bond on those two counts, according to court records.
Raymond Burkart III, Caldwell’s attorney, said an initial investigation has raised many questions about the incident that he believes would make it hard to build a case against the officer.
“We are not convinced at this time — at all — that the state will meet its burden (of proof) in any criminal proceedings. Further, this is a family issue. The family is trying to heal,” Burkart said, declining to discuss what might have led to the argument and saying the family will not play out the matter in the media.
Additionally, he said, there are conflicting accounts of what happened, despite the official account in police documents. “There are a lot of unanswered questions about how that was determined,” he said of the Police Department’s incident report.
The New Orleans Advocate does not typically identify alleged victims of domestic-abuse incidents, but Marion Caldwell, the husband, said the whole incident was “just a disagreement” and the matter has resulted in sanctions more serious than necessary.
Asked if it was true he had run from his wife as she chased him in her car, Marion Caldwell said, “That’s not true at all,” though he declined to elaborate.
A restraining order was issued against Stephanie Caldwell following her arrest, a standard practice in domestic-violence incidents.
The department’s Public Integrity Bureau will review the case.
Stephanie Caldwell, a 10-year NOPD veteran most recently assigned to the SWAT team, has a history of traffic violations while on duty as a police officer.
According to Civil Service records, she was suspended for eight days this year after she was found to be at fault for a minor accident on Religious Street in the Lower Garden District on Sept. 22, 2013.
On Dec. 12, 2012, she was involved in an accident that police described as major. She was trying to cross Gen. de Gaulle Drive at Wall Boulevard when she was struck by another car. Although she said shrubbery blocked her view, Caldwell was found to be at fault and suspended for five days.
In addition to the traffic violations, Caldwell also was suspended for two days in March 2009. Records show she was found to have fired her gun by accident during a chase on July 19, 2008, at North Roman and Touro streets but that she did not report the discharge because she was “afraid of the consequences.”
Former Police Superintendent Warren Riley issued Caldwell a letter of reprimand in June 2009 after she failed to attend a court hearing. Although she was subpoenaed, another officer called and told her the defendant had pleaded guilty and the hearing was canceled. Caldwell failed to report to court or to contact the judge to find out if she was excused.
Caldwell is the third officer to be suspended in recent weeks after facing battery charges.
Detective Robert Hurst was arrested on a charge of simple battery July 11 after initially being booked with attempted murder of a woman with whom he had an argument.
He has pleaded not guilty and was released on a $5,000 bond.
Officer Christopher Carter, another SWAT member, was suspended July 14 after the District Attorney’s Office filed a bill of information charging him with domestic abuse battery and domestic abuse battery involving strangulation.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges and was released on a $32,500 bond.
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.