A second police union is calling for a top New Orleans Police Department official’s resignation over comments she made about a fatal shooting involving Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies last month.
Capt. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, said his organization is asking for Deputy Superintendent Arlinda Westbrook’s immediate resignation.
A PANO member also has filed a complaint against Westbrook with the NOPD internal affairs unit she runs, the Public Integrity Bureau.
Jefferson Parish deputies shot Eric Harris to death in Central City on Feb. 8 after a car chase from Gretna. In comments at a community forum Tuesday night, Westbrook told family members of Harris that if New Orleans police instead of deputies from another parish had shot him, they would have been arrested “on the spot.”
Westbrook referred at the same time to the difference between NOPD policies — which prohibit officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless suspects use a second form of deadly force — and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office policies, which do not.
The Fraternal Order of Police said Wednesday that regardless of whether Westbrook was simply trying to underline departmental policy differences or to comfort grieving family members, her comments required her resignation. On Thursday, PANO seconded that call.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison has characterized Westbrook’s comments as a misstatement made in the heat of the moment. He rejected calls for her resignation and has ruled out disciplining Westbrook, who he said had acknowledged that she misspoke.
Glasser said the department’s rank and file are “horrified at what she had to say” and have lost trust in her ability to ensure impartial internal investigations.
Westbrook, a lawyer, is a civilian, not a police officer.
Glasser also expressed disappointment at Harrison’s reaction to the controversy. “I would have expected, at the very least, an investigation into what she said,” he said.
PANO’s vice president, Sgt. Pete Hansche, has filed a complaint against Westbrook with the Public Integrity Bureau. PANO also plans to forward the complaint to the Office of the Inspector General and the FBI.
The police union claims that Westbrook’s comments may represent a criminal obstruction of justice.
Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble said Harrison maintains “full confidence” in his deputy superintendent.
Staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report.