NEW ORLEANS -- The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office is dropping the criminal case against a Marigny homeowner who shot an unarmed teen on his property last summer.
DA's Office says new burglary charges against the teen tainted the case.
“He was overjoyed. He was very, very pleased,” said Landry attorney Kevin Boshea less than an hour after informing his client that the criminal case against him was being dropped.
“He says he prays for him everyday. That's the kind of person Merritt is. If you knew him personally, if you knew his family. This is something he didn't ask for this is something that will be with him as long as he lives,” said Roger Jordan also representing Landry.
Last summer, the Marigny homeowner pulled the trigger, shooting 14-year-old Marshall Coulter in the head. The unarmed teen was spotted on Landry’s property in the early morning hours and the 33-year-old said he felt threatened. Coulter would spend time hospitalized with serious head injuries.
The shooting would spark a firestorm in the community over a person's right to protect their property versus the unnecessary use of deadly force.
Police would eventually arrest Landry booking him on an attempted second-degree murder charge. The case was recently heard by a grand jury which failed to bring charges against him.
Reverend Aubry Wallace with Louisiana Coalition for Change has been watching the case closely.
“I’ve talked to all the religious leaders in the city. They've all come to the same conclusion: Coulter should be the poster boy for how we deter our young adolescents,” said Rev. Wallace of the need to keep youth off the streets and out of trouble.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement on Thursday that he was "ethically obligated" not to charge an individual if the evidence can't prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The DA is also refusing the Landry case because of new burglary charges against the teen. Most recently two weeks ago, when Coulter was allegedly caught inside a Marigny resident's home.
“To know that he's back on the street, what process was in court with him, what took place in the court, what type of supervision do they have outside the court?,” said Rev. Wallace of those unanswered questions. The community leader supports the DA’s decision but says much more needs to be done to curb the tide of crime plaguing New Orleans youth.
“We failed, we failed as a society. It's not a black issue, it's not a white issue. It's a moral issue,” said Rev. Wallace.
Landry, a City of New orleans employee, was placed on emergency suspension without pay after the shooting.
A city spokesperson says he returned to work last November on desk duty pending the criminal investigation. The city spokesperson says in light of the DA’s decision Landry's work assignment is being reviewed.