NEW ORLEANS -- Two Jefferson Parish deputies have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a New Orleans man who was gunned down in Central City after a high-speed chase that started in Gretna.
Eric Harris was shot several times by the deputies, Kenneth Bonura and Henry DeJean, on Lundi Gras 2016 after crashing his car into a utility pole following a chase that began at the Oakwood Mall.
The Feb. 8, 2016 shooting was reviewed by the FBI and Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office. In a meeting with the agencies on Thursday, Harris’ family was told that criminal charges would not be pursued, said Gary Bizal, attorney for the Harris family.
The crash and its aftermath were caught on surveillance video, giving investigators evidence to compare with the conflicting accounts of the deputies and Harris’ passenger, his girlfriend Tyshara Blouin.
The video shows Harris’ four-door Infinity jumping a curb, hitting the pole, then backing up slightly before a barrage of gunshots was unleased by the deputies.
JPSO Sheriff Newell Normand said his deputies fired in self-defense when Harris put the car in reverse. But Blouin said she never saw Harris put the car in reverse.
“He asked if I'm alright, am I alright and they started shooting. He didn't have time to back up,” Blouin said earlier.
The District Attorney’s office released this statement Thursday about its decision not to file charges:
“The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office performed a thorough review of the FBI-led Greater New Orleans Civil Rights Task Force (GNOCRTF) investigation and concluded the evidence does not form a sufficient basis for prosecution. The family of Mr. Harris has been notified.”
Bizal said he will continue to press ahead with a wrongful death civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Harris’ 3-year-old son.
“The burden of proof is different in civil court than in criminal court,” Bizal said. “I still think we have a strong case against the deputies for wrongful death in civil district court.”