Police have arrested the woman they say is responsible for a traffic accident that took the life of New Orleans Police Department Officer Vernell Brown Jr. in July, one of a string of painful incidents for the NOPD over the past few months.
Police say Norma Morales, a 21-year-old college student from Metairie, swerved her Toyota Scion into a Ford Mustang near the merger of U.S. 90 and Interstate 10 on July 12.
The Mustang then struck Brown, who was attending to an earlier incident on the shoulder of the highway. His body was sent flying into the concrete roadway, and he succumbed to his injuries five days later.
Brown, 47, was a 17-year veteran of the force. His death came not long after the fatal shooting of Officer Daryle Holloway in June. Two other members of the department have lost family members to violence this year.
Morales was booked Thursday on one count of criminally negligent homicide. NOPD Sgt. Bernard Crowden of the Traffic Division wrote in a warrant that Morales “started the chain of events which led to the officer being injured and subsequently dying.”
Police said that three hours after the crash Morales had a blood-alcohol content of 0.058, which is below the legal limit for driving of 0.08. The driver of the Mustang also submitted to a blood-alcohol test, which came up negative.
Crowden secured the warrant for Morales’ arrest Aug. 13. She was taken into custody last week at 500 Poydras St., the site of the federal district courthouse.
Morales, an employee at the Metairie sports bar Twin Peaks, is a student at Delgado Community College, according to court records. Her bail was set at $250,000 on Friday. Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office records showed on Tuesday that she had been released.