Last Modified: Sunday, April 28, 2013 8:06 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state appeal court has overturned the dismissal of a policeman who has pleaded "no contest" to criminal mischief charges accusing him of getting drunk and shooting up his personal car while on duty in December 2009.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last week that the department's internal investigation took too long, violating Patrick O'Hern's rights. The Times-Picayune reported.
The investigation began in March 2010. It should have been finished by Feb. 10, 2010, Wednesday's 2-1 ruling said.
The city can appeal. If it loses, O'Hern would be entitled to back pay since Oct. 27, 2010, when he was fired.
He wouldn't necessarily get back on the force — the department could investigate whether the plea indicates unfitness for duty.
The ruling in O'Hern's case is the latest to find fault with NOPD's policy of waiting to start administrative investigations into officers' actions until related criminal probes have been completed, sometimes after time limits set forth in the state law known as the "Police Officers Bill of Rights."
According to court records, O'Hern abandoned his patrol assignment on Dec. 12, 2009, drove his personal car to the top floor of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside parking garage. There, he drank whiskey; swallowed a dozen or so tablets of a drug used to treat epilepsy; and fired his police-issued gun more than 20 times, shooting through his car's roof and windshield.
Police responded, thinking O'Hern was in a gunfight with criminals.
He was taken to a hospital, where he said he had tried to commit suicide. Tests revealed a blood-alcohol level of .105; .08 is considered proof of intoxication in Louisiana.
Posted By: biscuit On: 4/29/2013
Title: Due process, but NO badge!!!
I want everyone to have due process, for sure, but mercy, don't allow him back on the force, with a gun. This is not the kind of guy I want stopping me at midnight alone. Or anytime, anywhere.