Jefferson Parish authorities on Wednesday arrested the girlfriend of Eric Harris, the man fatally shot in Central City last week by deputies who had chased him across the Crescent City Connection after an incident at the Oakwood Mall.
Tyshara Blouin, who has publicly disputed deputies’ account of the shooting, was booked on counts of being an accessory after the fact to aggravated assault with a firearm and of possession of a firearm while possessing a controlled dangerous substance, said Col. John Fortunato, a Jefferson Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Fortunato said surveillance footage from the mall indicates Blouin was “complicit” in Harris’ eluding arrest there after a group of women told a deputy that he had pointed a weapon at them. He said investigators searching her vehicle also found a firearm and “a small quantity of heroin.”
Harris was driving Blouin’s Infiniti during the police pursuit, which ended when Harris crashed the car into a pole near Simon Bolivar Avenue and Philip Street.
Blouin, 23, was not booked the night of the chase and shooting.
The Sheriff’s Office has said Harris refused to surrender after the crash and that the pursuing deputies, Henry Dejean and Kenneth Bonura, opened fire when Harris shifted into reverse and began backing his vehicle in their direction. Investigators said they found a Glock handgun in Harris’ car, but he is not accused of pointing the weapon at deputies.
The New Orleans Police Department’s Public Integrity Bureau interviewed Blouin last week but has not shared the results of that interview — or any other evidence — with the Jefferson Parish authorities, said Tyler Gamble, an NOPD spokesman.
He said the FBI is also involved in the investigation through agents embedded in the PIB.
Wednesday’s arrest came a week after Blouin gave media interviews in which she described a version of the shooting that conflicted with the deputies’ account. While the Sheriff’s Office has said the deputies feared for their safety after seeing the car’s reverse lights activate, Blouin insisted Harris was too disoriented after the crash to drive.
“I never saw him try to back up,” said Blouin, who had a child with Harris. “As soon as he asked me if I was all right, they started shooting at the car. I just felt like they was mad that they chased us.”
The pursuit began shortly before 8 p.m. Feb. 8, when a group of women told a deputy working a security detail at the Oakwood Mall that Harris had pointed a gun at them. Harris fled, Jefferson Sheriff Newell Normand has said, but was soon spotted on the West Bank Expressway headed into New Orleans.
The Sheriff’s Office also has accused Harris of ramming one of its vehicles during the chase.
The shooting has prompted at least three demonstrations, the most recent of which happened Wednesday afternoon, when a few dozen protesters marched to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, calling for an arrest of the deputies.
“We are demanding that these two officers be jailed and charged with the murder of Eric Harris,” activist Malcolm Suber said.
Jefferson Parish deputies do not wear body cameras or use dashboard cameras. But NOPD Public Integrity Bureau investigators have obtained surveillance footage from the nearby Metropolitan Human Services District office and an adjacent pharmacy that may have captured the shooting.
The Human Services District, a mental health agency, declined to release the footage to The New Orleans Advocate, citing the open police investigation and the potential that the video could show clients entering its Central City facility.
Staff writer Matt Sledge contributed to this report.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.