Even though Baton Rouge police administrators fired an officer who shot at a motorist in August, the department's detectives did not find a reason to arrest the policeman, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Friday.
Yuseff Hamadeh, a two-year veteran of the police department, was fired Thursday. He maintained that he had shot at the motorist after being shot at first, but police investigating the Aug. 7 confrontation in a neighborhood near Memorial Stadium said evidence did not support the officer's version of events. The motorist insisted he was not armed.
Moore said Friday that BRPD detectives did not believe they had enough evidence to accuse their colleague of a crime. The attorney for Raheem Howard — the motorist Hamadeh shot at — said that finding cannot be accepted by prosecutors and called for a criminal case against Hamadeh.
The Baton Rouge Police officer who shot his gun at a civilian and then claimed he had been shot at first was fired Thursday after an investiga…
"I do not believe this is grossly negligent, this is definitely criminal," said Howard's lawyer, Ronald Haley Jr. "Justice does not stop here. … We will not stop until he is prosecuted.”
After Hamadeh was terminated, Baton Rouge police spokesmen said investigators turned over the criminal investigation file to Moore's office. Moore said Friday he had received the majority of reports from the department's criminal investigation, but is still waiting on some. He said his office will do its own review of the investigation and evidence.
“I will review and eventually make some decision, whether that’s a decision alone or with a grand jury, given the fact that I’ve been told by (BRPD) investigators that they don’t have sufficient evidence to articulate probable cause for any crime by the officer," Moore said Friday.
The Baton Rouge Police spokesmen declined to comment further on the investigation or case. They would not say on what grounds Hamadeh was fired.
Haley said he and Howard remain hopeful that the district attorney's office will action.
“I have no reason to believe the (attorney general) or Hillar Moore’s office won’t do the right thing," Haley said. "But we will hold them accountable.”
The limited video and audio footage from an officer-involved shooting last month that Baton Rouge Police released Wednesday reveals little new…
After the Aug. 7 traffic stop-turned shooting, Hamadeh said he shot at Howard because Howard first fired at him. However officials later determined there was no evidence to support the officer's version of events.
But before that conclusion, police had arrested Howard on attempted murder of a police officer. He was held in jail for almost three weeks on those allegations until Moore said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case against him. Howard was released from jail in early October, after serving time on probation revocations for prior, unrelated misdemeanor cases.
While Haley applauded Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul for firing Hamadeh, he said that still falls short of true justice because Howard was held out to be a criminal.
“Nobody waited for an investigation for Raheem (Howard) to be arrested," Haley said. "On the word of a now-proven liar, (Howard) was perp-walked, he was arrested, he was embarrassed. ... Mr. Howard did not have a weapon, did not try to shoot at officer Hamadeh, as a matter of fact did not make an aggressive move at all toward officer Hamadeh. His (Hamadeh's) actions were absolutely unjustified."
Haley also said this incident calls for changes to civil service laws, which govern how police officers are investigated and disciplined. Police officers are afforded certain rights, including hearings with counsel before the police chief can make any disciplinary decision, like a termination. Investigators also have 60 days to complete investigations into an allegation of officer misconduct.
"Immediate action should be allowed to be taken," Haley said. "You should not be able to hide behind that, and those in a supervisory position should not be handcuffed into dispensing quick justice."
Howard, who will turn 22 on Sunday, said learning the officer was fired was almost an early birthday present for him. But he said the gravity of the situation still weighs heavy.
A man accused of shooting at a cop following a traffic stop last month won’t be prosecuted for the attempted murder of a police officer becaus…
“My birthday’s in two days, I could have been dead, or still in jail," Howard said. "I'm glad and thankful the truth came out."
Howard has maintained since his arrest that he never had a gun or fired at the police officer. He admitted running from the officer during the traffic stop, later explaining that he had bad experiences in the past with police, and saying that Hamadeh threatened him by yelling that he would kill him.
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Howard was initially stopped on North 15th Street in the Northdale neighborhood for a missing license plate, and immediately ran from the officer. Hamadeh pursued him, chasing him through the neighborhood and into a resident's home — then the officer fired his weapon. Witnesses and neighbors reported only hearing one shot. Moore said Hamadeh was the only person interviewed from the scene who said two shots fired.
No one was injured in the shooting.
Upon his arrest, Howard pleaded for investigators and media to review the body camera footage from the incident to prove his innocence. After the police department denied a public records request for that body camera footage, police Chief Murphy Paul admitted there was no body camera or dash camera video of the incident. Police have not said why the cameras were not on. An officer not turning on their body camera in a traffic stop or during a chase is against department policy.
On this there's agreement: Raheem Howard fled from the traffic stop conducted by Baton Rouge police officer Yuseff Hamadeh on Aug. 7 about 6:3…
Hamadeh shot and killed another man in June 2017, also following a traffic stop.
In that incident, police said Hamadeh fired his weapon at Jordan Frazier, killing him, after the 35-year-old turned and pointed a weapon at officers. Hamadeh was later awarded a medal of valor for his response in that incident, however Moore has not yet cleared him of criminal charges in that shooting.
There was also no body or dash camera footage of that incident.
The Baton Rouge police officer involved in the Tuesday night shooting after a traffic stop near North 15th Street is the same police officer w…
The Baton Rouge Union of Police issued a statement late Thursday after the news of Hamadeh's termination, expressing their disappointment in the decision.
"Our members are further disappointed that political pressure continues to play such a substantial role in their careers," the statement said.
Union President Sgt. C. Bryan Taylor could not be reached for further comment Friday.
Haley, however, called for every case involving Hamadeh to be re-opened and reviewed.
“If you can lie on this one, who’s to say you haven’t lied on others?” Haley said. “You want community cooperation. You want the community to help. Now is a chance to help the community."