A Louisiana woman was shot and killed in a police-involved incident after she allegedly hurled racists slurs at a group of construction workers and later tried to run law enforcement over with her vehicle.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 1, when authorities answered calls of a disturbance involving an unidentified woman and a group of men Sheriff Joseph Lopinto described as Jefferson Parish employees on the westbound side of Veterans Boulevard in the New Orleans suburb of Metarie, near the intersection with Lisa Drive, around 3:30 p.m.
The men had been tending to the widespread power outages and debris cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which claimed dozens of lives, most in the Northeast.
Lopinto said in a press release that the disturbance began on Park Manor Drive, less than a mile away, when the woman reportedly approached the group, cursing and hurling slurs at the workers. She allegedly called them “f-cking n-ggers” and demanded that they be arrested, according to video footage captured by an eyewitness.
The sheriff said officers tried to de-escalate the situation, but that’s when the woman reportedly took off driving, dragging a deputy alongside her car. A chase ensued, and the woman got caught in traffic near Veterans Boulevard. When cops finally caught up and tried to surround her car, she hit the gas again, striking the JPSO deputy she had initially dragged with her vehicle. Shortly after, another deputy opened fire as many as nine times into the car’s driver’s side, killing her. The number of shots was based on shells found at the incident scene — a more precise number is said to come in following a full investigation.
Lopinto said after the woman was shot, her car reportedly traveled another 40 or 50 feet before coming to a stop. There were no other occupants in her car. The deputy who was involuntarily hauled along for a ride went to the hospital with minor injuries. Meanwhile, the shooting officer left the scene unharmed. The identities of the deputies involved have not yet been released to the general public.
An investigation has since been launched and is in its early stages. It’s also unclear as to what set the woman off, but Lopinto did acknowledge reports of short tempers and heated arguments in the wake of the storm as supply shortages continue.
“I have no clue what her motives were, but I do know tensions have been high, and we are seeing more disturbances. Whatever it was, it shouldn’t lead to this, where a deputy is getting hit twice. People need to learn a little patience around here.”
Furthermore, Lopinto strongly believes the suspect may have been suffering from mental health issues. “Doesn’t seem like a whole lot was right with her from what I’m gathering,” he said in the statement. “Tensions have been high around here. Disturbances at gas stations — we’re getting a bunch of them right now.”