BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The mother of Raheem Howard, the man accused of shooting at a Baton Rouge police officer, says the officer who fired at her son should be charged with attempted murder.
The family and Howard’s attorneys allege a cover-up was orchestrated by BRPD after it was discovered the Baton Rouge Police Department did not have sufficient evidence to detain him on charges related to a shooting in which Officer Yuseff Hamadeh alleged Howard opened fire during a police pursuit. Hugging her son, Tenesia Howard said Officer Hamadeh should be charged instead. Howard was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison shortly after midnight Tuesday on unrelated charges.
Raheem Howard, 21, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and illegal use of a weapon on August 10. Moments before Howard was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on those charges, he said to WAFB cameras, “They got the dash cam and the body cam… I didn’t have anything.”
On August 20, officials with BRPD would announce the implementation of a new video release policy for officer involved incidents, heightening public pressure for release of any body camera footage related to the incident. Shortly after on August 29, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul released a statement in regards to public outcry to release body cam footage, admitting neither the officer’s body cam nor the front-facing dash cam in the officer’s vehicle were turned on during the incident. The rear-facing camera was on, officials said, but it was facing downward, so it did not capture any relevant footage.
Representatives for Howard addressed concerns surrounding the investigation a day after the announcement, on August 30, describing the arrest as “a deliberate act."
"His body cam that we’ve been asked to pay for and the citizens of this community have been asked to foot the bill for, was purposely left off. His dash cam, that this community has been asked to pay for, purposely left off. A third camera, which breeds that trust and transparency, turned downward. We’re asking that the Baton Rouge Police Department live up to what they’ve been asked of us,” said Representative Ted James.
“There’s a lot of gray area in this case and that gray area is not because of my client,” said Howard’s attorney, Ron Haley. “It’s because of the purposeful act of the officer."
On September 4, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore declined to prosecute Howard, saying there was not sufficient evidence he had fired a weapon.
“He didn’t have it. There was not evidence. Because he didn’t have a gun, he didn’t fire a shot. And I think the suppression of the evidence by the cameras either malfunctioning or being willfully turned off only lends to that argument,” said Haley. Howard was to remain incarcerated on charges unrelated to the shooting.
More than a month after his arrest on October 2, Howard was released from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Flanked by his mother and legal representatives, Howard spoke frankly about what he describes as a lack of investigation by BRPD officials to corroborate Officer Hamadeh’s claims.
“I asked the detective wearing the body camera, ‘Show me the video.’ He was like he seen the video, he seen me with the gun. I’m like, ‘You didn’t see me with anything.’ I asked to take the lie detector test, he was like, ‘I am the lie detector test.’ I felt like they didn’t do no investigation,” Howard said.
His mother also spoke frankly, describing the incident as an attempt to end her son’s life.
“What I’m hoping to see move forward with this case is that the officer be arrested, because he absolutely tried to kill Raheem, and it’s not fair that he’s sitting there earning a paycheck and he’s not being charged,” said Tenesia Howard.
Legal representatives for Howard say they are continuing conversations with Howard and his family to determine if they want to pursue any civil action against Officer Hamadeh.