NEW ORLEANS -- Dramatic body-worn camera video released on Thursday shows an armed burglary suspect shooting at New Orleans Police Department officers in the Lower 9th Ward on Oct. 28 before the officers returned fire, department officials said.
In a press conference at NOPD headquarters, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson and internal investigators gave the fullest account yet of the gun battle, the latest of several involving NOPD officers this year.
The exchange of gunfire left one suspect wounded, one in jail and another on the lam.
After releasing the video, Ferguson said it underscored the dangers the officers faced when they decided to fire.
"The video that you've just seen clearly shows how quickly, within seconds, events moved," Ferguson said. "There was no time for our officers to react in any way other than to defend themselves against the actions of these perpetrators."
According to the department, the shootout started with a 911 call about a burglary in the 1000 block of Deslonde Street around 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28.
Videos show three uniformed officers surrounding a house. According to the department, a plainclothes detective, Ladarius Johnson, positioned himself nearby on North Rampart Street.
An officer bangs on a door, identifying himself as a policeman. He is speaking to a woman, who answers the door and calls herself a resident, when glass shatters and gunfire begins. Three people are seen running through the backyard of the residence in an apparent attempt to flee.
Officials believe 21-year-old Jeremy Meilleur fired the first round toward officers as he tried to escape. The NOPD released an "enhanced" body-worn camera video with a zoomed-in view of Meilleur's hands, which officials said shows him leveling a gun at cops.
In the barrage that followed, Johnson and Officer Jordan Adderley fired a collective 12 shots, police believe. Investigators suspect Meilleur may have fired a second shot.
Adderley's camera captures him running across the yard and jumping over a fence toward the sound of gunfire on Rampart Street.
Meilleur is seen in the driver's seat of a minivan, poised to flee the scene. More rounds are fired. After several seconds, Meilleur complies with officers' commands to get on the ground.
Police said he suffered a minor wound in his upper right flank from Johnson's fire.
Meanwhile, Officers Antoinette Lewis and Jessie Williams III pinned suspect Bracwuan Holmes to the ground in the yard behind the house. He's heard telling cops that he has a gun in his pockets, which he says he "found" inside the residence.
Lewis, Williams and Holmes didn't fire a shot, according to police.
Meilleur did not have a gun on him by the time he made it to the minivan, according to police. Ferguson said he may have dropped or tossed it in the yard. Police recovered a .45-caliber weapon which they believe he used.
Holmes, 18, was booked on counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and aggravated flight from police.
After several days in the hospital, Meilleur, 21, was also booked into jail on counts of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and resisting officers with force.
Police said the third suspect has not been taken into custody. Ferguson urged the public to come forward with tips.
All of the officers involved in the incident remain on desk duty while the investigation proceeds, according to the NOPD.
One point that remained murky on Thursday was the alleged burglary itself. Ferguson said investigators were still trying to determine what items might have been taken from the residence. The suspects in custody haven't given any explanation as to why they might have been on the property, he said.
A spokeswoman for the city's independent police monitor praised the NOPD for releasing the video but declined further comment while the shooting is being investigated.
The video of the Lower 9th Ward shootout was released under what's become a standard practice since NOPD officers were equipped with body cameras in 2014.
Under a protocol approved by the judge overseeing the department's reform plan, the NOPD routinely releases footage of what it calls "critical incidents," like shootings or fatal car chases.
The video released to the public on Thursday redacts the identity of the woman who answered the door. The department showed an unredacted and unaltered version of the video to members of the press.
Body-worn cameras were initially touted as a check on officers' abuse of power, but department officials have just as often used their footage to justify officers' actions and illustrate the dangers of the job.
That dynamic was illustrated in June, when body camera and surveillance footage captured a pair of robbers at an Uptown pharmacy shooting at officers who returned fire. The intense footage showed one bullet slamming into an officer's shoulder and a suspect dropping to the ground after he was hit during a volley of dozens of shots.
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