Demond Sandifer, now 19, was charged with second-degree murder in the August 2011 shooting of Milton Davis as part of the 51-count indictment of the 110er’s street gang, whose members are charged with a total of 15 murders including that of 5-year-old Brianna Allen. The case was the largest of those assembled by the city’s multi-agency gang unit.
While several people named in the gang unit’s indictments have accepted plea deals, Sandifer was the first of him to take his charges to trial, said NOPD Commander Frank Young. The jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Sandifer guilty of murder, Young said.
“This was the first person to dare us, the first person to say, ‘Bring it,’” Young said Friday morning at the weekly meeting of NOPD ranking officers. “They dared us and we brought it, and the DA really did a wonderful job.”
Dozens of people have already been indicted in various gang cases and are still awaiting trial, and Young said he expects Sandifer’s speedy conviction to bring more plea deals.
“We anticipate the message will go forward from here that we’re not playing,” Young said.
The conviction is an integral piece of the city’s larger gang strategy, said Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who also attended Friday’s meeting to recognize the promotion of new senior NOPD officials. Investigators have identified the top 800 people in New Orleans most deeply involved in ongoing criminal activity, and they regularly bring groups of those individuals in to give them a choice: get out of the lifestyle, or be the next target of an investigation.
Sandifer’s conviction, Landrieu said, demonstrates the seriousness of that choice.
“It was the first time we put our money where our mouth is, and we delivered in a big way,” Landrieu said.