A veteran New Orleans police sergeant is scheduled to be questioned Friday in connection with the mysterious shooting of his supervisor near the site of the former Desire housing complex last year.
Internal investigators plan to interview Sgt. Willie Davis, 56, about the shooting that critically wounded Cmdr. Derek Frick, 48, as Frick drove his unmarked police vehicle down Alvar Street on Oct. 25.
In a search warrant obtained by The New Orleans Advocate, Lt. Kevin Burns Jr., of the Public Integrity Bureau, wrote that police investigating the shooting “learned that Willie Davis may have been (involved) or shared responsibility in the attempted murder.”
The warrant, sworn by Burns on March 2, does not explain why Davis has come under suspicion.
Police said the shooting was carried out by the driver of a tan SUV that pulled up next to Frick and then sped away.
The incident attracted national attention, and Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said at the time that Frick had been “targeted.” But since then, police have revealed little about their investigation, and they have yet to name or arrest any suspects.
Tyler Gamble, a Police Department spokesman, confirmed that investigators plan to interview Davis about the case. Gamble said Davis has not been named as a suspect and has faced no disciplinary action. He remains on active duty.
Several other people also have been interviewed, said Gamble, who declined to comment further on the investigation.
Davis is being represented by Donovan Livaccari, of the Fraternal Order of Police, who said his client is “a 37-year veteran of the NOPD who hasn’t had any problems up to now, and I don’t expect any problems for him in the future.”
On Sept. 23, a little more than a month before the shooting, Frick was promoted from lieutenant in the Public Integrity Bureau to commander of the Management Services Bureau. In his new position, he supervised Davis, who serves as the NOPD’s fleet manager. Both men have been with the NOPD for more than three decades, and both are graduates of St. Augustine High School.
Frick was off duty and out of uniform when he was shot in the neck while driving an unmarked Ford Explorer on Alvar Street near Pleasure Street about 7:40 p.m. Oct. 25.
Police said Frick was traveling southbound on Alvar when a tan SUV with tinted windows pulled up alongside him. The driver of the other vehicle fired several shots at him, police said, then turned upriver on Pleasure Street. The passenger side of Frick’s vehicle was struck multiple times, according to an initial incident report.
Frick was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition after the shooting. WWL-TV reported earlier this month that he is recovering well and walking after surgery to treat an infected bullet wound.
The warrant signed by Burns says that Davis’ “participation in other crimes became under investigation as a result of information learned during” the shooting investigation.
Among those matters, according to the search warrant for Davis’ medical records, is whether he underwent dialysis treatment while on the clock as a police officer. Police have asked for records from the DaVita Dialysis clinic, on the grounds of Touro Infirmary, from Jan. 1, 2015, through March 2 of this year.
Davis was once lauded as an officer who helped bring down a cocaine protection racket involving corrupt cops in the 1990s. But his star within the department dimmed after a 2001 incident in which it was alleged that he fired a revolver during a domestic dispute with two women in New Orleans East.
The District Attorney’s Office did not press criminal charges against Davis in that case, citing conflicting witness testimony.
The NOPD did not determine whether Davis actually fired the gun, but he was demoted from sergeant to officer for misleading fellow cops about the incident. That punishment was later overturned by an appeals court.