A day after a shooting during an attempted drug bust in Gretna, an officer who was struck by a bullet was home recovering Wednesday, while one suspect remained hospitalized and another was released and booked into the Jefferson Parish jail.
Meanwhile, investigators continued to try to determine whether either of the suspects, Darryl Johnson and Darrin Jones, fired upon the undercover officers as the pair tried to flee.
Authorities also were trying to figure out if the officer who was struck by a bullet also was struck by the suspects’ car as it rammed various unmarked police vehicles, Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson said.
The shooting happened about 3 p.m. Tuesday behind a strip mall near the corner of Claire Avenue and the West Bank Expressway.
Johnson and Jones arrived there to sell heroin, police allege. Surveillance footage of the incident that Lawson released Wednesday shows their car almost instantly began to ram the undercover units that quickly boxed them in.
The video, which lasts about 15 seconds, shows one officer dodge the suspects’ car as it lurches toward him with bullets flying about the same time.
After the shooting, the officer, who has not been identified because of his status as an undercover officer with a task force, was hospitalized and treated for injuries he might have suffered, even though he wore a bulletproof vest. At the very least, he had shrapnel abrasions and cuts to his arm, officials said.
Gretna Police Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana said that even though the vest prevents a bullet from entering the body, the bullet’s impact can still do internal damage.
Johnson, 22, was shot in the face and remained hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday.
Jones, 23, who was shot multiple times, did not suffer serious injures and was jailed after being released from the hospital. He faces counts of possession with the intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute heroin, being a felon carrying an illegal weapon and possession of a weapon during a crime.
Johnson will face counts including possession with intent to distribute heroin, resisting an officer and attempted first-degree murder. Christiana said the attempted murder charge stems from the fact that Johnson used his car as a weapon, apparently in an effort to harm the officers.
Lawson said investigators were still trying to determine whether either suspect fired a gun during the incident.
Christiana said Tuesday that a gun was found in the car. Drugs also were found inside, said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, whose office is assisting with the investigation.
The Gretna Police Department said in a news release that crime scene investigators found about 35 packets of heroin inside two packages.
Lawson said the officers’ use of force was necessary after the suspects used their own excessive force.
“It’s our job to make sure these officers ... get home safely,” Lawson said. “Do I think the force that was used was justified? I certainly do. In fact, if more force was needed to keep the officers’ safety in check, I would have no problem with that either.”
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.