City prosecutors on Wednesday raised the ante in their case against businessman and mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock over an incident involving a New Orleans police officer.
Scurlock — who has not yet filed his official paperwork to run for mayor — was charged in a bill of information with assault and crossing a police cordon. Police accused him of bumping Ofﬁcer Clinton Lawrence, who was trying to maintain order amid protests over the planned removal of the Jefferson Davis monument in Mid-City on May 6.
The municipal assault charge represents an escalation by the City Attorney’s Office, given that Scurlock was initially booked by police on a single municipal count of obstructing a public place.
The new and more serious charges came one day after Scurlock’s defense attorney, Thomas Robichaux, alleged in a motion that the officer who arrested Scurlock lied in a probable cause affidavit.
Robichaux said in the motion that a video of the arrest posted online “clearly shows that the defendant did NOT bump the officer, but rather, the officer turned and attacked the defendant, forcibly poking the defendant in the chest with his fingers and knocking him backwards.”
The video proves that the officer who wrote the arrest affidavit “perjured himself,” Robichaux said.
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On a Wednesday conference call with his attorney and a reporter, Scurlock said the new charges against him were an example of "typical Louisiana politics at its finest" before Robichaux interrupted him to say a written statement would be coming soon.
Robichaux added to those allegations in a statement he sent by email.
“This new bill of information amounts to perjury on the part of the city attorney, and a blatant and willful disregard for the truth and the basic constitutional rights of the citizens of New Orleans,” Robichaux said. “Mitch Landrieu is drunk on his own ego and will do anything to discredit my client. It's time for City Hall to focus on real crimes instead of abusing their power.”
A spokeswoman for the city flatly denied that politics was at play in the higher charges against Scurlock.
The mayoral election had “no bearing” on the city attorney’s decision, said Erin Burns, the spokeswoman.
Robichaux worked as an assistant city attorney in the City Attorney's Office for about 10 years. He was fired by the Landrieu administration in 2011 for allegedly passing information to opposing counsel in a pending case, a charge Robichaux denied.
Robichaux was cleared of misconduct by the Louisiana Bar Association for lack of "clear and convincing evidence," The Times-Picayune reported in 2012.
Scurlock’s arraignment was set for July 18.
Staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.