An Orleans Parish grand jury on Thursday indicted a state fire captain on charges he pistol-whipped a neighbor outside a French Quarter bar over the weekend.
Capt. Richard Abbott, of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, was charged with aggravated battery and possession of a firearm inside an alcoholic beverage outlet.
Abbott, 47, is accused of striking a man “several times to the top of the head” with a black .357-caliber revolver — his personal firearm — before walking into the Three Legged Dog bar at Burgundy and Conti streets, according to a police report.
The authorities said the assault happened about 8:35 p.m. Saturday and stemmed from a dispute over Crash, Abbott’s bomb-sniffing dog.
According to police, Abbott, who was off-duty at the time, approached the man in the 400 block of Burgundy Street and asked where his dog was.
“The victim stated he told Abbott that he didn’t know what he was talking about,” said Officer Garry Flot, a New Orleans Police Department spokesman.
The victim, who lives in the same block of Conti Street as Abbott, was treated at the scene for a small cut but refused to be taken to the hospital, the police report says. Police found Abbott inside the bar and noted that he “appeared intoxicated,” according to the report.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office brought the charges even after a magistrate commissioner, Robert Blackburn, found no probable cause for Abbott’s arrest and released him Sunday without bail.
Deputy Chief Brant Thompson, of the Fire Marshal’s Office, told The New Orleans Advocate earlier this week that Abbott, a 13-year veteran promoted to captain within the past year, had been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation by the State Police. That probe is continuing.
“Certainly that whole thing as it was told to me was very concerning,” Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said. “We would not tolerate any type of the behavior that was alleged.”
Abbott is not the first State Fire Marshal’s Office employee to be indicted during Browning’s tenure. In 2013, prosecutors charged Nunzio Marchiafava, a former district chief in New Orleans, with falsifying paperwork about an attempted inspection at a run-down apartment in Grand Isle that later caught fire with two residents trapped inside.
Marchiafava, 70, is scheduled to stand trial in September on counts of malfeasance in office and filing false public records.
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