Current Port Barre police chief and long-time Opelousas police officer, David Richard died Sunday night doing what his staff says he did best, helping out officers. Chief Richard was assisting his officers in a high-speed chase on Highway 190, when, state police say, he lost control, slammed into some trees, and then spun back into the median. Troopers say he was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. WAFB's Cheryl Mercedes reports from Port Barre.
The town of Port Barre was unusually quiet Monday. Cars came to a crawl as they passed in front of the police department, where flags flew at half-staff. People in the community say they just can't believe their chief, whom they refer to as a friend, is really gone. Randall Tyler says, "I think it's tragic, the way it happened. I just don't know what to say, it's so shocking. It's shocking to everyone."
Assistant Chief Cindy Jordan says Chief Richard was chasing 38-year-old Stanley Bernard of Carencro, after they say he refused to pull over for a traffic stop. Police say they simply wanted to know why his tail lights were out. Detectives say Bernard gave chase through Krotz Springs and New Roads, where he and his three passengers allegedly fled on foot. He was arrested four hours later.
When asked about the chief, Verna Holloman says, "He was a great guy. He really was. He will be missed." While the community remembers their leader around town, inside the police department, Assistant Police Chief Cindy Jordan finds it hard to keep her composure. In fact, she talks about her boss as if he were still sitting in his office next door. She says, "He's always on duty, never leaves us alone and dedicated chief. Loves his kids, job and community." Soon, Jordan will be wearing a new badge, the chief's. She says she plans on carrying on his legacy, with a new lesson in mind when she patrols the streets. She says, "Time is very valuable and precious in anything you do."
Bernard is in New Roads, waiting to be sent back to St. Landry, where he is charged with having no tail lights, speeding, and aggravated flight from an officer. Other charges are pending. The Pointe Coupee Sheriff's Office says the two passengers did not flee from police and will not be charged. Visitation for Chief Richard is Monday night (Aug. 6th) until 10:00pm and again Tuesday from 8:00am until 1:30pm at Sibille Funeral Home in Opelousas. His funeral will also be at First Baptist Church in Opelousas on Tuesday at 2:00pm, followed by burial at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Port Barre.