New Orleans police officer Joshua Colclough, 28 (pictured left), has been charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of 20-year-old, unarmed Wendall Allen (pictured right), but claims that racial tensions in New Orleans are too high for him to receive a fair trial, reports NOLA.com.
On March 7, 2012, Colclough, a white, four-year veteran of the NOPD, entered into a home in the middle-class Gentilly section of New Orleans, allegedly with a search warrant for a marijuana investigation that did not involve Allen, who is black.
According to an internal police investigation, the officers knocked on the door of the home, but no one answered, forcing them to kick it in. As they fanned throughout the house, other officers claim they heard a single shot.
Allen, who was “unarmed, shirtless and wearing jeans and sneakers,” had been shot once in the chest by Colclough.
According to Coroner Frank Minyard, the bullet penetrated the lungs, heart and aorta of the 6’3, former Frederick Douglass High School basketball star, who fell to the floor and died “almost instantly.”
Five children were in the home at the time of the shooting, reports NOLA.com.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro offered Colclough a plea deal, which he later refused. And his attorney, Claude Kelly, claims that information of the negotiations leaked to the press has fueled racial tensions:
“From the beginning, this incident has had racially charged implications,” Kelly wrote in his motion for a change of venue Friday. “Regardless of the facts of the matter, the populace — fueled by media reports during and after the incident — has become polarized along racial lines. Thus it is impossible for the court to seat a jury in this parish unbiased by the racially charged coverage that has permeated this incident.
“Fliers posted throughout the city, including areas near the Orleans Criminal District Courthouse, scream ‘Justice for Wendell Allen” and other such slogans,” Kelly wrote in his motion. “The name Wendell Allen and its synonymy with police violence has even permeated the art of local graffiti taggers, who have similarly posted various slogans around town using graffiti as their medium for expression of their enmity.”
Allen’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of New Orleans and the NOPD the same week as the family of 2o-year-old Justin Sipp, who was killed by the NOPD under suspicious circumstances during a traffic stop.
He was allegedly armed and was killed after he began shooting at police officers and they returned fire.
One of the officers who shot Sipp was Jason Giroir.
As previously reported, in response to a comment posted on WWL-TV.com on a story about Trayvon Martin, 17, who was unarmed when he was gunned down by George Zimmerman, 28, Giroir said that the 17-year-old deserved to die:
“Act like a Thug Die like one!” he wrote.
Giroir’s wife echoed her husband’s sentiments on the same article:
“He acted like a thug and died like one,” she wrote. When a commenter said that Giroir’s comments were racist, the veteran did not back down, taunting, “… come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!”
Read more about both Sipp’s and Allen’s cases at the NOLA Defender.