NEW ORLEANS – Shortly after hitting and killing NOPD officer Rodney Thomas with an expensive Porsche Panamera early Sunday, three men charged in the death and aftermath quickly moved to cover up the crime, according to court documents.
Less than 40 minutes after the off-duty officer was struck – suspects Kenneth Halley and another man met Bill Cager at Cager’s auto and body shop, ironically just a block or so from NOPD headquarters.
The court documents do not indicate that the driver of the car that struck Officer Thomas – Justin McKey – was in the car when it arrived at the body shop.
Once at the shop, documents say that surveillance video caught the three men as they went about wiping blood stains off the vehicle. However, they apparently didn’t dispose of the evidence very well as the documents said blood-stained rags were found in the garbage at the shop.
Police also said that when the vehicle was located in the shop Monday, it still had a massive indentation and hair was stuck in the windshield.
In addition, records show the Porsche was stopped hours before the incident with Officer Thomas by an officer handling traffic near the Superdome. The records say that Halley, who was driving at the time, was given a warning after driving through some cones in traffic at the Superdome.
McKey was charged with manslaughter and hit and run in the case; Cager and Halley were charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to hit and run.
According to court records, Thomas was in his uniform and wearing a reflective vest directing traffic after an accident on the highrise. When Thomas saw a white Porsche Panamera driving at a high-rate of speed, he attempted to flag down the vehicle. The Porsche struck Thomas' truck, before hitting the officer and continuing with him on the hood of the car. After Thomas fell off the vehicle's hood, the vehicle sped away.
On Monday, a car matching the description of the car that hit Thomas was discovered in a body shop around the block from NOPD Headquarters. It was then towed out of the Best of the Best Auto Shop in Mid-City.
Around 3:30 p.m. Monday, McKey, 25, went to the NOPD Traffic Division with his attorney, according to court records. McKey told police that he was driving the Porsche, but added that it was dark and he didn't see Thomas.
Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Tuesday, police arrested McKey and two others.
McKey, 25, was arrested for hit and run causing death or serious injury and manslaughter. His bond was set at $50,000.
The auto shop owner, Bill Cager, 34, was booked with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to manslaughter. His bond was set at $100,000 - $50,000 for each count.
Kenneth Halley, 28, who had been questioned as a person of interest on Monday, was arrested for obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact to manslaughter. He has an extensive criminal record that includes arrests for second degree murder and heroin distribution.
Several other people were questioned and more than 100 Crimestoppers tips were called in.
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said they expected to make multiple arrests in the case.
"We now have reason to believe that not only the driver may have been involved in subsequent behavior after the killing of Officer Thomas. We will continue to investigate that," Serpas said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111. A possible reward was increased to $15,000 after Mayor Mitch Landrieu donated $10,000 from his campaign fund to Crimetopppers.