NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A 25-year-old man accused of carrying a handgun and an assault rifle near the pride parade and Naked Bike Ride appeared in court Monday (June 10).
But Cody Jackson had nothing to say about what unfolded Saturday afternoon in the French Quarter.
“I prefer not to comment,” Jackson said, leaving the court house.
Jackson entered a not guilty plea Monday morning in municipal court, two days after police arrested and booked him on charges of illegally carrying a firearm near a demonstration. Two events were rolling through the same area of the French Quarter at the time of Jackson’s arrest -- New Orleans’ LGBTQ Pride Parade and the city’s Naked Bike Ride, a worldwide event to promote awareness for bicycle safety.
Khalad Hegazzi, the owner of Pharaoh’s Cove on the corner of Royal and Barracks streets said he witnessed Jackson’s arrest.
“It’s scary to see a man walking in the streets during a parade or in the middle of festivities with a big gun,” Hegazzi said.
Hegazzi said he was watching as the World Naked Bike Riders passed, when something odd caught his attention.
“This group of people stopped on the corner, and immediately the police grabbed him from the back and asked him to put his hands up," Hegazzi said. “We were shocked. Why would they arrest someone just on a bike? So I kept my eyes on what was going on.”
FOX 8 obtained the officer’s summary of what happened, which states Jackson was riding a bicycle near the LGBTQ pride parade and the World Naked Bike Ride Pride Parade at the corner of Royal and Barracks when an officer saw an “AR-15 style rifle" strapped to his back. In the report, the officer said the weapon was “in plain view.”
The officer also found a magazine loaded with 12 live rounds, including one in the rifle’s chamber, “ready to fire,” the report states. Jackson was also in possession in a .45 caliber pistol, which was not concealed and loaded with 10 live rounds, according to the report.
While it is legal for licensed gun owners to openly carry their firearms in Louisiana, FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti said there are certain exceptions.
“Louisiana is an open carry state. That means you can walk around carrying an assault rifle and you can’t be stopped, unless you’re in a certain place," Raspanti said. “Once of those places is if you’re within a thousand feet of a parade or demonstration that has a permit, and that was the case here.”
Twice last month, people called the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office about Jackson carrying weapons. In both incidents, the sheriff’s office said they spoke with Jackson. At least once, a JPSO spokesman said Jackson told investigators that carrying an assault rifle and handgun in plain view was his constitutional right.
In both incidents, Jackson was allowed to go on his way.
Jackson bonded out of jail on a $10,000 bond in New Orleans.
During his hearing Monday, Jackson told a judge he wanted to represent himself, but the judge decided to appoint him a public defender.
NOPD spokesman Aaron Looney confirmed the arrest Saturday and said although Jackson was arrested during and in close proximity to the pride event, he is not accused of making any threats to the parade. No shots were fired, Looney said, and no injuries were reported.