Would-be inmate and suspected coke dealer Carl Crosby had apparently escaped while he was being booked into the New Orleans jail. He was able to flee out the back door while handcuffed. So, police had set up a checkpoint in order to find Crosby.
That’s when local musician Shamarr Allen drove up, and seeing the roadblock, decided to back up and go a different way. He had just dropped off a fellow band member at home after one of their gigs, and he himself was on his way home in the early morning.
Allen said he was leaving a gig on Frenchmen Street and was dropping off a bandmate when he was pulled over. He said his story never changed, despite the police saying it did.
…Then two troopers approach him with their guns drawn. Then four officers grab him forcefully out of his car and onto the ground…
“I was dropping somebody off from a gig. Why can’t I just be? What’s so bad about that? … I just want to live my life police-free.”
He said he believed the video had been edited to make the troopers look better. State Police claimed they blurred the officers’ faces because they work undercover, but they are seen in uniform on the video. And the lack of audio meant viewers couldn’t hear what the police were yelling at him.
“They’re just treating me bad,” he said. “It’s a lot of, ‘What you doing around here? Where’d you get this car from? How you able to afford this car? It’s too late for you to be around here.”
He took issue that the police searched both his cell phones and his car trunk without his permission. And, he said at the end of the encounter, one officer handed him his ID and threatened him. “He said, ‘Here’s your license – don’t come down here no more. If you come down here, I’m taking you to jail, I’m giving you a bunch of charges and I’m gonna impound your car. I’m gonna find you in about two or three days.”
The fact that Allen tried to go a different way to bypass the checkpoint led police to believe that he was in on something and might be connected to the suspected drug dealer. I understand why they’d think that, but as it turned out, it was just some trumpeter trying to get home after a late-night gig. Allen stated:
“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do none of that. I don’t live wrong at all. It’s just, this is the life of a black man in the Lower 9th Ward.”
Of course, the police claim that Allen resisted and was non-compliant. They say that about everyone they arrest. Allen claims that he never even had a chance to resist, and that resisting never even crossed his mind, as he apparently had two acquaintances who had been killed by police. In other words, he didn’t want to make them any more angry than they already were.
Here’s video (though not much audio) of part of the traffic stop:
Although they roughed him up a little, searched his cellphone and car, threatened to charge him with a bunch of things he didn’t do and impound his car, they decided to let him go without charges “as a courtesy.” Remember, he was completely innocent, and the only reason they treated him as a criminal was that he tried going a different way home to avoid the checkpoint. Somehow, agreeing not to falsely charge him with a bunch of made-up violations doesn’t sound like much of a courtesy to me.