- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The family of an unarmed 20-year-old man killed by a New Orleans police officer in 2012 called Tuesday for new state and federal investigations in the case, which already has resulted in a manslaughter conviction and four-year prison sentence for the officer.

A lawyer for the family of Wendell Allen, who died from a single gunshot to the chest in the March 2012 raid on a New Orleans home, made the call after the city’s independent police monitor, Susan Hutson, issued a blistering report on Allen’s death. It faulted police for what she characterized as an ill-advised, poorly planned raid in search of marijuana. And it accused the lead homicide investigator in the case of being slow to seek a video that proved to be important to an investigation of the shooting.

Former officer Joshua Colclough, is serving a four-year sentence for manslaughter for shooting Allen. A hearing on Colclough’s request for a sentence reduction is set for Wednesday.

Lionel “Lon” Burns, attorney for Allen’s family, said Colclough is not the only person who should be punished for Allen’s death, calling him a “sacrificial lamb” in the case. Burns stopped short of saying whether the family would oppose a sentence reduction for Colclough, who has apologized to them for the shooting.

Hutson’s report focuses on a raid, shooting and investigation that came as the New Orleans Police Department was under a harsh national spotlight. Police were facing federal prosecutions for the shootings of unarmed people in the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

After a highly critical 2011 U.S. Justice Department report and after the Allen shooting came a 2012 federal court consent decree in which the city agreed to numerous reforms in policy, training and use of force.

That agreement includes a requirement for the use of police body cameras - an irony, since it was a video recording made by a police officer on the scene that helped make the case that police did not identify themselves before using a battering ram to crash into the home where Allen was shot.

Hutson’s report says that a police sergeant investigating the shooting misconstrued or mischaracterized some evidence - including information gleaned in interviews with children present during the raid and shooting. Allen’s family said children ranging in age from 1 to 14 were there when police stormed in.

Also, Deputy Police Monitor Simone Levine said the sergeant initially overlooked and denied the existence of the video that captured part of the raid, only seeking it after being ordered to do so by his superiors.

Hutson’s report called for an investigation of the sergeant and others involved in the case by the police department’s Public Integrity Bureau.

Police responded with a statement from chief Michael Harrison, who took over the top spot in the department last year.

“Three years later, we have implemented significant reforms to improve training, supervision and resources for our officers, including the implementation of body worn cameras,” his emailed statement said.

The offices of the New Orleans District Attorney and the U.S. Attorney did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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