NEW ORLEANS -- Police are still trying to piece together a deadly officer-involved shooting Thursday morning.
Police sirens broke the silence in a quiet Mid-City neighborhood. Justin Sipp, 20, had been shot to death, and his brother, Earl, 23, grazed in the leg. Two police officers were taken to the hospital.
"Today these two officers showed the greatest amount of heroism," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "It reminds us again everyday that police officers are in a profession that sometimes requires the ultimate commitment."
Chief Ronal Serpas said it all started just before 5:40 a.m. Thursday when Officer Jason Giroir stopped a white Grand Am for a traffic violation in the 500 block of North Bernadotte Street, near City Park.
Serpas said Giroir called for back up when he felt the two men were acting suspiciously. Officer Anthony Mayfield Jr. and veteran officer Michael Asevedo then arrived on scene. Serpas said Mayfield and Asevedo began questioning Justin Sipp, who was in the passenger seat, when the unexpected happened.
"We have reason to believe that Justin Sipp removed a secreted .380 handgun from his waistband and opened fire on Mayfield and Asevedo," said Serpas.
Serpas said Mayfield and Giroir fired back, killing Justin Sipp and grazing Earl Sipp in the leg. Serpas said Earl was in handcuffs during the shooting because he was cited for driving with a suspended license. He was released from the hospital hours after the shooting and and faces no serious charges.
"When he had a suspended license, it was the beginning of violation that could require an arrest," said Serpas.
Serpas would not say where Earl Sipp was physically during the shooting, and it is unclear whose bullet struck him.
Serpas said it's unclear what type of moving violation prompted the initial stop; that's under review. He also said the officers involved were not wearing bullet-proof vests at the time, a violation of department policy.
"We don't know whether or not it would have made any diference," said Raymond Burkhart, spokesman and attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police. "The focus needs to be that one of these people was shooting at the police in a traffic stop."
Giroir has been placed on administrative reassigment pending an investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau. He has served on the force for 13 years and was working as an overtime Mid-City Security District patrol at the time of the shooting.
Police are still looking into exactly what happened. If you have any information, call police or Crimestoppers at 822-1111.