After a woman told investigators last week that a SUV driver beckoned her to cross Magazine Street and then ran her down as she was doing so, New Orleans police say newly-obtained video shows the vehicle passing her without incident and her falling on the sidewalk of her own accord.
The woman initially told police that she was waiting to cross in the 2000 block of Magazine Street on the evening of June 5 when an SUV driver gestured for her to cross in front of him, police said last week. As she stepped into the street, the woman said, the SUV accelerated and hit her, then stopped so a passenger could say “Ha ha, bitch,” before fleeing, police said. An ambulance took her to the hospital for treatment for her injuries after the incident.
Surveillance video from Juan’s Flying Burrito did not show the woman crossing the street, but briefly showed a vehicle that matched her description driving past a moment later, police said at the time. Investigators deemed the incident an “aggravated battery” because of her account that the vehicle hit her intentionally, and asked other business owners nearby to review their own video for a clearer view of the incident.
This week, a nearby businessman found footage on his system that appears to fill in the gap, investigators said. In the second video, the woman (apparently wearing a pink or light-colored shirt), steps off the curb in front of Juan’s and steps onto Magazine Street. She waits as several cars pass, and then, as a clearing opens, she begins walking across, the video shows.
An SUV does approach, and she walks in front of it to the opposite sidewalk, and the SUV then passes after she steps out of the street, the video shows. The woman then suddenly falls down onto the sidewalk, but the SUV has already moved down the street, the video shows.
“There’s no car involved in this at all,” said Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy after viewing the video. “It didn’t happen. It’s indisputable that it didn’t happen.”
Now that they have seen the second video, investigators have not been able to reach the woman again, so it is unclear why she told them she had been hit by the SUV, Bardy said. She may have even believed it herself, Bardy said, so it is unclear whether charging her with making a false police report (defined under Louisiana law as a form of criminal mischief) would be appropriate. The cruel comment she heard, investigators say, may have simply been from an onlooker who saw her fall.
“She may have believed at the time she was in fact hit, when she in fact was not,” said Sixth District Sgt. Daniel Scanlan.
Business owners, however, are frustrated now at the negative publicity surrounding the lower section of Magazine Street over an incident that never occurred.
“When I first heard about it, it sounded pretty horrifying, so I’m glad to hear it didn’t happen that way,” said Jud Houston, manager of Juan’s Flying Burrito. “I don’t understand why she was claiming that it happened. There was no way anybody hit her, and I think that’s pretty clear from the video.”
Video production associated with this report was produced with the assistance of our partners at WWL-TV.