The officer involved in a high-speed chase down Milan Street that led to the death of a college student home for the holidays in January was fired from the NOPD this week for lying about the case, authorities said. Officer Justin Ferris was pursuing a car after its occupants allegedly discarded what appeared to be narcotics during a traffic stop, police said at the time. As the suspects attempted to elude the officer, they crashed into another uninvolved car at Milan and Freret, where 18-year-old Mariah Woods was sitting. The Xavier Prep graduate was home from her first semester at Northwestern State University, and her death led to widespread mourning throughout the neighborhood and the school community. The full text of the announcement of Ferris’ termination is below:
Superintendent Ronal Serpas fired Officer Justin Ferris today after a thorough investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau revealed that Ferris broke several departmental rules while in pursuit of a driver who refused to pull over last January.
After negotiations over a prostitution deal went awry, a woman called in a false report of a carjacking in the Milan neighborhood in an effort to retrieve a purse that was never stolen, police said Wednesday. Around 11 a.m. Wednesday, the woman and a potential customer were sitting in her rental car near South Robertson and General Taylor streets, discussing the price for a sex act, said Sgt. Ron Dassel, a NOPD Second District task force leader. The woman became angry when she discovered the man didn’t have the money she wanted, and ran out of the car, then called police from around the corner and reported a carjacking, Dassel said. Officers flooded the area — “The response was almost instantaneous,” Dassel said — and quickly found the woman, the still-parked rental car, and the man who had also fled on foot after the woman left.
A Milan resident sitting on the porch was robbed at gunpoint by a passer-by last week, police said. The victim was sitting on a porch in the 2700 block of Milan about 1:45 p.m. Thursday when a stranger walked by, then came back a few minutes later, police said in an email alert. On his return, he pulled out a pearl white or silver handgun and demanded the victim’s belongings, then took the cash the victim gave up and left, heading away on Magnolia, police said. The suspect is described as thin-built, 6-foot-1 black man with a dark skin tone, clean-shaven with short twists in his hair, wearing a white T-shirt, blue pants and a white baseball cap.
The rejection of a controversial Carrollton coffeeshop, the approval of alcohol sales at a new Walgreens on Claiborne, and other land-use matters on Oak Street, in Milan and in the Garden District were given final decisions this week by the New Orleans City Council. Closing Konbini | A coffee shop/corner store on at 2101 South Carrollton that briefly opened for business without the proper license or zoning was sent back to the drawing board by a sympathetic but ultimately unyielding Councilwoman Susan Guidry during Thursday’s meeting. The building is zoned for residential use but had been an office for years, until it sat vacant long enough to lose its temporary commercial use. Its proprietors said they gathered 500 signatures from the neighborhood in support of their idea, but the more intense commercial use and spot zoning that the project represented were overwhelmingly opposed by neighborhood organizations in the area. “It’s very painful to say no to a business ready to open,” Guidry said, saying she regretted the financial impact to the owner of rejecting his application.
Several clusters of homes in the Milan neighborhood — including 4121 Willow, 4121 Clara, 2824 Milan, 3500 S. Robertson, 3600 S. Saratoga, 2742 Amelia — are up for demolition hearings on Tuesday’s Neighborhood Conservation District Committee agenda, as is one in the Touro neighborhood, 3822 Camp. For images of each property, see the Preservation Resource Center’s “Preservation in the Present” blog.
Billed by street-culture diva Big Red Cotton as the “last second line of the season,” the Uptown Swingers will roll through Freret, Milan and Central City starting at 1 p.m. Sunday. For turn-by-turn directions and video from 2010, see Cotton’s post at Gambit’s bestofneworleans.com.
“To be perfectly honest, who would have thought that in New Orleans, the police would respond to our request?” asked resident Helene Barnett. “But they’re walking the beat. On a scale of one to 10, it’s gone from a one to an eight almost overnight.”
Months of organizing against the roots of violent crime in the Milan community will culminate tonight (Wednesday, June 8th) with a block party featuring food, kids’ activities and an assessment of the progress made so far. From the organizers:
On behalf of the neighbors of the Milan Focus Group on Crime and Neighborhood Housing Services, I invite you to help us create a safer neighborhood by attending our first “Community without Violence” Block Party on Wednesday, June 8 from 5:30pm – 7:00 pm at the 2100 block of General Taylor. As the heat of the summer sets in and violent robberies are on the rise in the area, neighbors are uniting to celebrate the strength of our community and stand up against violent crime in our streets. We ask you to stand with us. At the block party, we will connect with each other, meet district police officers and city officials, and share resources for preventing crime on our blocks.
An 17-year-old boy was critically wounded by a gunshot to the back on a Broadmoor street corner Friday.
One weekend of suppression through heavy-saturation patrols and walking beats won’t stop the drug trade or end the gun battles, Milan residents acknowledged. But it did create a sense of safety and peace long missing from the neighborhood – and an impression that the police are listening to their concerns.