The dashboard camera on slain New Orleans Police Department Officer Daryle Holloway’s new patrol SUV did not record his shooting or the struggle that police say the dying officer waged to keep Travis Boys inside the vehicle on June 20, an NOPD spokesman said Monday.
Holloway was, however, wearing a working body camera, on which Boys, 33, can be heard yelling three times, “Let me go before you kill yourself!” after he had maneuvered his way through a port into the SUV’s front seat, police say.
Whether the lack of dash-cam footage will hamper District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office as it pursues a first-degree murder case against Boys is unknown. Boys pleaded not guilty Monday at a brief arraignment.
Working dashboard cameras, which film both forward and backward in police cars, are a key part of the court-mandated reforms now underway within the NOPD.
Problems with the system, with many of the department’s cameras not functioning, have raised red flags in periodic reports from the court-appointed monitor overseeing the wide array of reforms required under a federal consent decree.
Improvements are underway, with new servers and a central video storage unit going online soon to fix longtime problems as officers try to upload camera video during their shifts, according to the NOPD.
But the changes didn’t come soon enough to capture what took place as Holloway was carting Boys to jail after his arrest on suspicion of shooting at his wife. Somehow, a handcuffed Boys managed to gain access to a .40-caliber handgun that he used to shoot Holloway once in the chest, police allege.
NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said Holloway was driving one of 300 new vehicles the department bought in the past two years. Those vehicles contain new dash-cam technology that’s incompatible with the older servers still in use in the department.
“As a result, there is no (dashboard) video available for the investigation” of Holloway’s death, Gamble said in an email.
Gamble said the supplier of the new equipment is just now uploading historical footage onto the system and will be setting up servers in the various police districts next week.
He said the dash cameras can hold about eight hours of footage, but the camera in Holloway’s car was full and didn’t record anything from Boys’ transport.
“We are frustrated with how long the replacement process has taken, but we can report that the installation and upgrades are expected to begin next week,” Gamble said.
The federal consent decree that Mayor Mitch Landrieu and then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed three years ago requires the department, within two years of the agreement, to maintain and operate video cameras “in all marked or unmarked vehicles that are assigned to routine calls for service, task forces, tactical units, prisoner transport or ... canine” units.
Gamble said U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who is overseeing the reforms, is aware of the technology problem and has allowed the new vehicles to hit the streets in the meantime.
The monitoring team led by the Washington, D.C., law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton has found myriad problems with nonworking cameras and other failures with the dashboard video systems. Its latest report in April found continuing problems and a failure of the NOPD to reach full compliance with the mandated changes.
“Some of these shortcomings were the fault of officers, who failed to report nonfunctional cameras; others were the fault of supervisors, who failed to take action when reports were made,” the report said. “The primary driver of noncompliance now, however, seems to be technological. NOPD simply lacks the server capacity to ensure the functionality of all its in-car cameras.”
According to the NOPD, the percentage of cars with nonfunctional cameras has risen further because of the new vehicles with incompatible technology.
Fewer than half of all dash-cams are operational in four of the NOPD’s eight districts. The 2nd District and the 5th District, where Holloway worked, are the worst performers, with just 30 percent and 31 percent, respectively, of their in-car cameras working, according to the NOPD.
Gamble said nearly two-thirds of the nonworking cameras aren’t working because of the new vehicles.
In the meantime, police Superintendent Michael Harrison has set up a new accountability system for officers to report when their cameras are broken, Gamble said.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.