Head of Louisiana State Police stands by Trooper
The head of the Louisiana State Police voiced unequivocal support Tuesday for a trooper who body-slammed an apparently drunken Illinois man in the French Quarter over the weekend, describing the officer’s use of force as commensurate with conditions on Bourbon Street at 4 a.m. Col. Mike Edmonson, responding to a cellphone video viewed more than a half-million times on Facebook, said the off-duty trooper reacted appropriately under the circumstances and that State Police have not opened an internal investigation into the arrest. “It’s easy to take a tape and pick it apart, but my troopers are dealing with a lot of people who are intoxicated and a lot of unknowns,” Edmonson said in a telephone interview. “Unless you’re in the heat of the moment, you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know who these individuals are, where they’ve been and what they’re doing.” The arrest happened after 4 a.m. Saturday in the 200 block of Bourbon Street. The trooper, whose name was not released, had just finished a 12-hour shift and was headed to his vehicle when employees at the Beach on Bourbon flagged him down “asking for help with an intoxicated subject refusing to leave” the bar, said Trooper Melissa Matey, a State Police spokeswoman. The Illinois man, 39-year-old Michael Hoffman, apparently had complained that he had not received his debit card back from bartenders, said Joshua Plauche, a Florida photographer who happened upon the incident and filmed it with his cellphone. “In my opinion, it was a misunderstanding,” Plauche said, “but I don’t know on which end.” Hoffman can be heard in the video inquiring about pressing charges and asking the trooper, “How is this OK?” Another man, Hoffman’s brother, initially tried to defuse the situation but later appeared to raise the tension when he stepped between the trooper and his brother. That maneuver prompted the trooper to throw Hoffman’s brother into a row of trash cans lining the street before forcefully taking Hoffman to the ground inside Willie’s Chicken Shack, a business next door to the bar. Hoffman was treated for a cut to the hip but has lodged no complaints about his arrest, Matey said. He received a summons to appear in New Orleans Municipal Court on counts of criminal trespass, public intoxication, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Plauche said he had been impressed by the trooper’s patience and demeanor throughout the first several minutes of his dealings with Hoffman. “The cop did a great job in the beginning, when they were talking,” he said, adding that he intends to upload additional footage of the incident. “I respected that.” But the body slam seemed like an overreaction, the photographer said, noting the trooper had not even called for backup. “It was an emotional decision by the officer,” said Plauche, who has not been contacted by any law enforcement officials. “I think of it as the conversation being Point A and the body slam being Point C. The trooper skipped over Point B.” Edmonson said he had no concerns about the trooper’s use of force, adding it was clear from the footage that Hoffman had been resisting arrest. He said the trooper used a common police tactic known as an “arm-bar takedown” to gain control of the situation.
Dash-cam catches bear dashing across Missouri Highway and Crashing into pickup
A Missouri trooper’s dashboard camera caught a bear’s mad dash as it crossed a south-central Missouri highway and crashed into a pickup truck. The bear was not seriously injured when it crossed U.S. 60 near Missouri Route AM north of Willow Springs in rural Howell County. The incident, which happened June 21 and was posted to the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Facebook page, is a reminder to drivers to be aware of their surroundings and watch out for animals that could enter the road, be it a deer or a bear, said Lt. Paul Reinsch, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol. The patrol warned that as the bear population increases in Missouri, the number of incidents involving them will rise. A crash creates the potential for a dangerous encounter with an injured bear. If a vehicle strikes a bear on the highway, people should stay inside the vehicle and contact the Highway Patrol by dialing *55 on their mobile phones or calling 800-525-5555. Drivers should avoid the urge to swerve when they see an animal run onto the roadway. “It’s better to hit an animal than to swerve and lose control,” Reinsch said. The incident is also an example of the importance of wearing a seat belt in case something unexpected happens — like a bear dashing onto the roadway.
Mercedes-Benz and Alabama State Troopers join forces to promote seat belt safety
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County is teaming up with Alabama State Troopers to promote seatbelt safety awareness. On Monday morning, ALEA used a special rollover simulator at the Vance Mercedes Plant to kick off the annual Safety Awareness Week. Trooper Reginald King says that using the simulator as a visual aide is important to show how deadly it can be when motorists don’t buckle up behind the wheel. “Well, hopefully, it will remind people to buckle up each and every time no matter how short the distance you travel. You want to take that extra 2 to 3 seconds to properly buckle that seatbelt,” King said. Troopers from the Marine Patrol Division were also on hand to display a jet ski simulator for waterway safety demonstrations. Rolf Wrona, Vice President of Human Resources at Mercedes-Benz United States International, says that the partnership with ALEA is good for the community. Thousands of his employees travel local Tuscaloosa County roads each day. Wrona says Mercedes wants to do everything possible to help promote seatbelt safety. “Well, it clearly shows how critical it is for everybody to wearing their seatbelts on the highway,” Wrona said. “It is so important for their safety”. ALEA says 301 people have been killed on Alabama roads this year. 52 percent of the victims who lost their lives were not wearing seatbelts. That is 83 more fatalities then this time last year.
Fill the Truck! West Virginia State Troopers collect items for residents
A local state trooper has organized a “Fill the Truck for West Virginia” drive, in hopes to collect items for residents affected by floods. Over 20 people died in the floods and thousands have lost everything in the natural disaster. Trooper Angela Shaffier may live and work in Central Virginia, but Greenbrier County, West Virginia, is her hometown. “Many people have lost everything they had and are living in shelters,” Shaffier said. “Those who were able to return home have no power, have lost so much and are cleaning up layers of mud after throwing out all of the furniture and appliance [s] that cannot be salvaged.” Shaffier plans to deliver the supplies to West Virginia on Friday, July 1.Cox Transportation donated a truck to haul the items. It is currently set up at 17347 Pouncey Tract Road in Rockville. Donations will be accepted beginning Tuesday morning. People wishing to contact Shaffier can send a message through the Facebook page: Fill the Truck for West Virginia. Shaffier said that any donation will be appreciated, and specific requests are needed for the following items:push brooms, powder lime, large trash bags, large trash cans, gloves, cleaning supplies, bleach, shop vacs, extension cords, shovels, Non-perishable food items, Diapers, wipes, baby formula, personal hygiene products, dog & cat food, coloring books & crayons, kids toys, furniture, blankets, fans, bed linens, towels, flashlights, batteries, cell phone chargers, bottled water, Gatorade, coolers.