By Missy Wilkinson
Source The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
Body camera footage of the shooting of a man by New Orleans police near the Caesars Superdome last month shows the knife-wielding man assuming a tactical stance, lunging at officers and ignoring repeated commands to drop his weapon.
"Let me die," Jimmy Earl Deason, 62, said after police shot him in the arm. "I want to die."
In a press conference at NOPD headquarters Thursday to release the footage, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson gave a detailed account of the events that transpired near the Superdome box office at around 7 a.m. Nov. 15. Officers Romelo Noel, a three-year veteran of the force, and Marshall Scallan, a 15-year-veteran, were summoned by Superdome security workers after Deason refused to leave, Ferguson said.
"He has a knife, and he has been charging at everyone," a Superdome worker tells the officers in the initial seconds of the one-and-a-half minute video, which depicts a rapidly escalating confrontation.
Police approach and draw weapons after telling Deason repeatedly to put the knife down.
"Go ahead, you, you—" Deason says as he stands and waves the knife.
"We're not trying to do that. We just want to talk. What's going on?" Noel asked.
Deason refuses to drop his knife and Noel fires a single shot, striking Deason in the arm he used to hold the weapon, though Ferguson said officers are trained to shoot to the chest. Deason went to a hospital in stable condition and was treated for his wound. Currently, Deason is incarcerated at Orleans Justice Center on four counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer. His bond is set at $40,000.
"We don't know if this was a suicide by cop situation," Ferguson said. "It definitely appears to be so, based on his statements."
Deason had a history of mental illness and violent crime. In 1990, he murdered his wife and two small children with a semiautomatic rifle at their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He said he had a brain disorder, had been taking lithium and tranquilizers and hadn't slept in a week before the killings, according to The Associated Press.
NOPD's force investigation team is leading the investigation of the use of force, and the independent police monitor and federal monitors were at the scene.
Noel is assigned to the 8th District, which includes the CBD and French Quarter, and remains on administrative reassignment for the duration of the investigation, per standard protocol. He will resume patrol duties soon, said Ferguson, who commended Noel for his performance.
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