Paul Murphy and Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Family members of the men in the car who were shot say they have more questions than answers. They want to know how a morning ride to work could end so tragically for the two brothers.
According to family members, Thursday morning the Sipp brothers headed to work before dawn – Justin Sipp to the Burger King on City Park Avenue, and Earl Sipp to the Burger King on Canal.
Earl's girlfriend, Sawishi Jordan, said it was their normal routine.
“He just left my house between 5:20 and 5:25 this morning to go pick up his brother,” she said.
About 20 minutes later, Jordan got a text message from Earl. Their white Pontiac Grand Am was stopped near the corner of N. Bernadotte and Toulouse in Mid-City.
The text at 5:45 a.m. reads: "I got pull over by police."
Then, at 5:46 a.m., he texts: “Behind Subway at Justin Burger King."
“The cops need to let me know what they did in between 5:45 and 5:46 when he told me he got pulled over by them,” Jordan said.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, the officer who stopped the Sipp brothers called for backup.
“The backup arrived, and about seven minutes later, the officers notified the dispatchers that a shooting had taken place between the officers and the persons in the vehicle,” Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.
Now it's almost 6 a.m., and Justin's co-worker, Terry Smith, said he was running late.
“One of them called and said the police just stopped them behind Subway,” Smith said. “Something told me just walk that way, and I looked and saw him on the ground dead.”
Sipp's family members want to know what happened in those crucial moments between when police stopped the car and the shooting started.
“They are home-body individuals. They go to work and come home, seriously. That's a fact,” said Jerome Simon, Sipps’ uncle. “They respect the law. I really, truly believe they won't try to harm anybody.”
“I can't explain,” said Asia Bailey, Justin Sipp’s girlfriend. “My man, he don't carry nothing. He go to work everyday.”
Police found a gun at the scene they believe was fired by Justin Sipp.
Family member Larry Champ, the brother of Justin and Earl Sipp, said they still have a lot of unanswered questions. Champ spoke in the Mid-City neighborhood where his family lives. He said his brothers were dressed in their Burger King work uniforms when they were pulled over by police on their way to work.
Hearing that his brother Justin Sipp suddenly opened fire on officers is something Champ says is out of character for the 20-year-old man, who was shot and killed by police who allegedly returned fire.
“That’s not what I heard,” Champ said. “They’re not telling the total truth. Mayor Landrieu and Ronal Serpas and all of those people to get on the news and act like it was such a heroic act by these police its mind boggling to me.”
Champ said his family wants a thorough investigation into today’s shooting.
According to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office website, Justin and Earl Sipp do have arrest records.
Court records say the brother who died in the shooting this morning, 20-year-old Justin Sipp, was set to appear for a probation hearing later this month. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to theft by credit card.
In 2010 he was arrested for armed robbery with a firearm, but the district attorney's office refused the charge a few months later.
His brother, 23-year-old Earl Sipp, was arrested for three counts of armed robbery in 2009, but that charge was refused.