Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Central City shooting. Sigh.

So, so, so sad - my thoughts and prayers are with Nicola Cotton's family and friends. It's interesting to me that our law enforcement resources are being put into traffic cameras (yes, I know, revenue-generating cameras) instead of recruiting and training new officers so that our existing patrols aren't stretched so thin (re: she called for back-up for seven minutes). She was 24 years-old, tiny, soft-spoken and on patrol alone. She's served our city since before Katrina, and now she's gone, because some (alleged) paranoid schizophrenic emptied the entire clip of her Glock into her small body. ::shaking my head in sorrow::

Police said Officer Nicola Cotton was the officer they allege was shot to death by Bernell Johnson, 44, with her own sidearm Monday morning.

Around 4 p.m., police walked the suspect at Central Lockup, and Riley said Johnson is charged with murder and multiple sex offenses in Jefferson Parish. Riley said Johnson had been arrested previously in connection with a variety of sex offenses.

Witnesses said the woman was shot several times around 10 a.m. in a parking lot at a busy intersection in the city's crime-plagued Central City neighborhood.

Riley said the officer was attempting to arrest a man wanted in connection with a rape. When she approached the man, Riley said the man pushed her and the two struggled for seven minutes -- during which the officer called for back-up.

"It appears as though he overpowered her and took her gun from her," Riley said.

According to Riley, she was shot to death with her own gun by the suspect who was "twice her size." According to police, the man appeared to be a vagrant, and gave himself up to police when they arrived.

Riley said Cotton followed procedures while attempting the arrest, but noted she was a "smaller female" dealing with a "very large male."

Police said Cotton graduated from the police academy shortly before Hurricane Katrina.

Several police swarmed the area after the shooting and blocked nearby streets and called in a special operations unit.

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