A Gretna police officer shot and killed a man who led members of the West Bank Major Crimes Task Force on a high-speed chase Thursday afternoon. The unidentified officer fired three rounds into the windshield of the man’s pickup on the West Bank Expressway about 1 p.m.
Corey DiGiovanni, 36, died from his wounds at University Medical Center in New Orleans, Gretna Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiana said.
DiGiovanni, who was under surveillance for drug-related activity, and an unidentified passenger led police on a chase from a house on Anson Street before crossing the westbound lanes of the ground-level West Bank Expressway and entering the bus terminal under the elevated highway near Leboeuf Street.
There, police said, DiGiovanni rammed several police cars and drove his truck toward an officer, who fired through the windshield, striking DiGiovanni but not hitting the passenger.
Christiana said heroin, marijuana and pills were found in the car.
Gretna police did not release the name of the officer who shot DiGiovanni or the name of the passenger.
Christiana said the officer has been placed on administrative leave, according to department policy.
The West Bank Major Crimes Task Force had the Anson Street house under surveillance Thursday when DiGiovanni left it and got into the truck, joining the waiting passenger. When officers pulled into the driveway behind him, DiGiovanni drove forward through the house’s back yard and to River Road. He then pulled onto Hamilton Avenue and eventually got to the West Bank Expressway near Truxton Street, where he pulled into the Jefferson Parish Westside Transit Terminal.
As he tried to exit the terminal near Leboeuf, DiGiovanni rammed police cruisers that had converged on the area. He then put the truck into reverse, backing into other cruisers and dragging another that had become hooked on the bumper, Christiana said.
Officers approached the car on foot, only to have DiGiovanni drive toward them, jumping the curb again and heading right for the officers, one of whom opened fire, Christiana said.
Amber Douglas, who owns Scat Kat’s Sports Bar & Motel, ran to the window after hearing sirens as police converged on the transit station just outside her bar, located on the expressway at Leboeuf Street.
“I saw the truck come across the bus terminal and jump the cement right there,” she said, adding that the truck almost struck a cyclist.
At that point, Douglas saw the officer fire three shots and paramedics immediately pull the man out of the passenger-side door.
Douglas said that to her, the man paramedics were working on appeared to be the man she had seen in the passenger seat, wearing a blue shirt.
The bullet holes were in the passenger side of the windshield, but Christiana said the officer was moving laterally when he fired, striking the driver.
Law enforcement agencies’ policies vary on whether to release the names of officers who shoot people. Louisiana State Police, the New Orleans Police Department and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office do so routinely, while other agencies do not or make the decision on a case-by-case basis.
“Our policy is we don’t release the names of officers involved in shootings,” Christiana said.
He said investigations into such shootings are typically done by the department itself unless there is a reason to bring in an outside agency.
“There are no extenuating circumstances in this incident that would prevent us from conducting business as usual,” he said.
Christiana said the department’s basic policy on use of force is that deadly force is justified if the officer feels he is in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.