NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Funeral plans for slain Mandeville police officer Vincent Liberto were announced Monday (Sept. 23), three days after he was fatally shot during a police chase.
Mandeville’s police chief Gerald Sticker said while Liberto’s death is undeniably tragic, he is relieved that there weren’t two officers killed in that shootout.
Liberto was a 25-year veteran of the Mandeville Police Department and as memorials grow at the scene of Captain Liberto’s death, Sticker said he is struggling to move on.
He was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after a police chase went horribly wrong. Mark Spicer, a 21-year-old Covington man, is accused of fatally shooting Liberto following a chase which began in Old Mandeville after Spicer fled from a traffic stop.
“The initial stop was for no license plate,” Sticker said.
Liberto was in the office when the call went out about a chase initiated by fellow officer Benjamin Cato.
“Captain Liberto was at his desk that day and when his radio fired up and then officer asked for help, he jumped up,” Sticker said.
Both Liberto and Cato were shot at Highway 22 and 190, where the chase came to an end. Cato was grazed by a bullet in the face and was not seriously hurt, but Liberto was fatally injured. Now, longtime coworkers said they are struggling to accept what happened.
Officer Eddie Vanison worked with Liberto for 13 years.
“My first interaction with him was just like the last, ‘Let’s go get it and do it we got to do, go on calls and get the bad guy,’” Vanison said.
Former Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard was Liberto’s supervisor for six years and said he was a man he and other officers always went to in a tough situation.
“Vince was so dedicated first he was a family man and he loved his community he saw things that needed to happen and took it upon himself to make it happen as best he could,” Richard said.
Liberto leaves behind a wife Tracy and seven children, -- five of them now grown and all involved in either law enforcement or the military.
“We’ve lost a great officer, a family man and a friend,” detective Karole Muller said.
Cato returned to Desk Duty at the Mandeville police station Monday, to his colleges’ relief.
“We were this far from burying another police officer, we’re very fortunate,” Sticker said.
Sticker said Governor John Bel Edwards will sign an order requiring all flags across the state to go to half staff on September 27 to honor Liberto.
Funeral services will be held at the Castine Center, 63350 Pelican Drive, Mandeville, on Friday at noon and is open to the public.
Visitation at the Castine Center will begin at 9 a.m. until funeral time.
A police procession will follow the funeral services.
Interment at the Saint Lazarus of Bethany Memorial Garden, 450 Holy Trinity Drive, Covington, will begin after the police procession arrives, with full military honors.
Liberto’s family released this statement on Monday:
“The family of Captain Vincent N. Liberto Jr. is very appreciative of the enormous outpouring of love and support since Friday, 20 September 2019. There is no doubt that Vince, and so many others, cheered the Saints on to victory yesterday from Heaven! We are requesting that everyone please respect our privacy as we move forward and prepare for this Friday’s Memorial Ceremony to celebrate his honorable life.”