Army veteran and onetime New Orleans police recruit Bradley Parvez was convicted late Thursday on a charge of manslaughter in the late 2014 fatal shooting of a bicycle thief, Timothy Rainwater, at the doorstep of a Carrollton home.
Prosecutors with Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office had sought a conviction on a more serious charge of second-degree murder. They said Parvez shattered the front glass door of his Fern Street home as he fired from inside at Rainwater.
Parvez, 32, claimed self-defense, arguing he feared for his life as Rainwater, a 39-year-old drug addict, grabbed at the door. Defense attorney Martin Regan said the door was partially open, and the altercation was sparked by Rainwater.
According to testimony at the trial, the two men were within a few feet of each other when Parvez began firing on Nov. 13, 2014. Regan suggested to the jury that his client smashed the window with his head, not the gun, challenging the evidence that Parvez fired from behind a shrouded door.
But testimony from police noted bullet holes in a white window drape, along with what a detective described as defensive wounds to Rainwater’s right hand. That evidence, prosecutors said, supported the notion that Parvez was under no imminent threat when he pulled the trigger four times in rapid succession.
Rainwater suffered a fatal gunshot to the back of the head. His body landed on shards of glass. Parvez then called 911.
“I shot somebody. He tried to steal my bike,” Parvez reported. “I went outside to see what it was, and I opened up the door and he just kind of grabbed for me and all of a sudden. ...”
A few moments later, Parvez told the dispatcher, “He’s bleeding. You need to hurry up, man.”
Had Parvez intended to kill Rainwater, he would have continued firing and would not have urged police to hurry, Regan argued.
According to Assistant District Attorney Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue, Parvez’s criminal history includes a misdemeanor conviction to resolve allegations he beat a woman in the stomach with the butt of a rifle, “trying to kill her baby.”
Parvez left the force after less than a year as a police recruit in 2006 after he allegedly tried to break into cars while out of uniform at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Rodrigue said.
Rodrigue and prosecutor Tiffany Tucker acknowledged that Rainwater was at the Fern Street house, with pliers, to steal a bike, but they scoffed at the idea he was bent on entering the home or taking on the bigger, armed Parvez.
“Timothy Rainwater had a family. His life mattered. You can’t kill someone over a bicycle,” Tucker said.
Regan suggested the prosecution was politically motivated by a get-tough stance on crooked cops, urging the jury not to take the bait. “I don’t want you to all convict my client because you’re making a political statement,” he told the jury.
In his closing argument, Regan also sounded racial tones. Parvez is black, as was Rainwater.
“Young black lives count. So do black families’ homes count,” Regan said. “And I guarantee, I don’t care if you’re white or black, you try to burglarize my house, I just might shoot you.”
Cannizzaro’s office has filed a motion for a firearms enhancement that would place the sentencing range for Parvez at 20 to 40 years.
The jury deliberated for about two hours Thursday night before rendering the 10-2 verdict.
Criminal District Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier set a March 24 sentencing date.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.