Yuseff Hamadeh

Yuseff Hamadeh 

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said he plans to release on Wednesday the limited footage from the Aug. 7 officer-involved shooting in which police arrested a man for shooting at an officer, who then fired his weapon. A prosecutor said Tuesday there was not enough evidence to jail the man on an attempted murder accusation.   

Paul said he plans to release audio captured by the police unit's rear camera and video recorded by a bystander. No video was captured by the officer's rear vehicle camera because it was facing down, and the officer's body camera and his vehicle's front dash camera were off during the incident, Paul said.

"We don't believe that releasing it at this time will interfere (with the ongoing investigations)," Paul said Tuesday. Paul had previously withheld the footage from the public despite a new policy created to improve transparency following critical incidents involving officers. He said Tuesday that key investigative steps have now been completed.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday that footage, along with other evidence, was key in his decision not to proceed with the case against Raheem Howard, 21. He said there was not sufficient evidence to prove that any other gun — beyond the officer's — was ever fired. 

Officer Yuseff Hamadeh conducted a traffic stop over a missing license plate on Aug. 7 on North 16th Street. After the driver stopped, he fled the vehicle, police said. According to police, as Hamadeh chased the man, he turned a fired at the officer, prompting Hamadeh to return fire. Initial police accounts of the incident said both men fired once.

Howard was arrested days later — and while he admitted he fleeing the traffic stop, he was adamant that he never had a gun. Neighbors and witnesses also said they only heard one shot.  

No one was injured in the shooting.

Paul said Tuesday his investigators led to Moore dropping the counts against Howard. The police chief said new evidence prompted investigators to meet with officials in the District Attorney's office. Paul declined to explain what that new evidence is, citing the ongoing investigation. 

"Our police officers began that process," Paul said. "It’s important to understand, absent your articles in The Advocate or press conferences — that had absolutely no influence on our investigation. We were going to do that from day one."

The Advocate first reported Aug. 27  — 14 business days after the incident — that Paul decided not to release the audio and video footage from the officer-involved shooting, despite his new policy that gave him the discretion to release such footage 12 days after such an incident. The following day, Paul explained that there was actually no body camera or front dash camera footage of the incident, only audio from the rear vehicle camera and a bystander's video. Howard's attorney on Aug. 30 held a press conference discussing the case, calling for transparency and more information. 

Paul and Moore both said that the same day as that press conference, BRPD investigators met with prosecutors to discuss the case. The evidence presented was not sufficient to hold Howard in jail, Moore said.  

Howard was released from the $90,000 bail set on counts of attempted first-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon that day. However, he is still being held in Parish Prison on bench warrants from earlier unrelated cases.

"As we begin to gain the public’s trust, I hope they trust us enough to say, 'BRPD can do a thorough investigation,'" Paul said. "We are moving forward as an organization."

Paul said the administration investigation into Hamadeh's actions is still ongoing, as is the criminal investigation. The police chief said he will review the evidence at the end of the investigation. 

It is department policy to turn on body cameras at a traffic stop and during a pursuit. Violations can warrant a suspension, the policy says. 

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.