The New Orleans Police Department acknowledged Friday that a man fatally shot by a plainclothes officer during an armed robbery investigation last month did not play a role in any of the robberies that had sparked a police stakeout.

An internal investigation has concluded that Arties Manning III was not involved in the hold-ups that led a special NOPD team, called the TIGER unit, to descend on the man's New Orleans East apartment complex on the night of Jan. 24.

However, police still maintain that Manning raised a gun at Officer Terrance Hilliard, who was in civilian clothes as part of an operation seeking to arrest another man, before Hilliard opened fire in response. Hilliard, a seven-year veteran, hit Manning three times and killed him.

Police Superintendent Michael Harrison called Manning a “suspect” on the night of the shooting, raising the ire of his mother, Natasha Manning. She said her son had no criminal record and was not involved in any armed robberies.

Officers separately arrested Harry Palmore, 29, at the Carriage House apartment complex, 10151 Curran Blvd., on the same night that Manning was shot.

He has been booked in connection with two armed robberies and an attempted armed robbery that happened in the week leading up to the shooting. Police said in an arrest report for Palmore that he confessed to the robberies.

“Our (Public Integrity Bureau) unit has determined that the deceased was not involved in the armed robberies that were being investigated by the TIGER unit on the night in question,” Beau Tidwell, an NOPD spokesman, said in a statement Friday. “Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook met with family members this week to share that information and to give them a detailed update on the ongoing investigation into the officer-involved shooting.”

Tidwell said that “eyewitness accounts affirm that the deceased raised his weapon at the NOPD officer.”

Manning’s mother, Natasha, said she met with Westbrook and Public Integrity Bureau Lt. Kevin Burns on Tuesday. She was accompanied by attorney Katie Schwartzmann, of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center.

“Ms. Westbrook did say that Arties Manning was cleared, that he had nothing to do with the robberies,” Natasha Manning said. “Pretty much everything else is wait and see. I don’t know what else they have to wait for."

She has maintained from the start that her son was not involved in the armed robberies. She called the fact that the Police Department has come to the same conclusion a “bitter relief.”

She added that she still hopes Harrison will live up to a pledge she said he made to her at a Jan. 25 meeting. She said Harrison told her he would publicly clear her son of involvement in the armed robberies if investigators determined he had no part in them.

“I think he should apologize,” she said.

The Police Department’s determination that Manning was not involved in the armed robberies could have little impact on the outcome of its investigation into whether the fatal shooting was justified.

Tidwell, the NOPD spokesman, said the investigation is waiting for evidence from the shooting scene to be processed. Hilliard, the officer, remains on administrative leave.

“Our interviews are complete, and we are waiting for all evidence to be processed,” Tidwell said. “Once we receive all of those results, we will complete our investigation and forward the results to the District Attorney’s Office. This process can take several months, but the NOPD is committed to conducting a thorough, transparent and efficient investigation.”

More than 30 protesters, including Manning’s mother and sister, gathered outside NOPD headquarters on Thursday night to speak out on the shooting.

As the group held candles and waved posters, Natasha Manning said she wanted to ask Hilliard to "look deep inside his heart and ask himself, 'Did I just kill another black man for nothing?' "

Hilliard is black, as was Manning.  

"This starts with you, Terrance Hilliard. Where is your apology?" Natasha Manning said.

Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson said last week that she still had many questions about the ongoing Public Integrity Bureau investigation into the shooting.

Meanwhile, one of the federal consent decree monitors who also have oversight authority for the Police Department offered a guarded statement on the case on Thursday.

"The process is working the way it should work. They are doing a thorough investigation. That’s all I can say about a pending matter," said Jonathan Aronie, the court-appointed lead monitor for the NOPD's court-ordered reforms.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432