Six indicted in connection with death of Officer Rodney Thomas

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 11:11 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- Six indictments have been handed down in connection with the hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of New Orleans Police Department Officer Rodney Thomas.

The surprise announcement came during a budget meeting in New Orleans East Thursday night.

Thomas was a beloved member of the New Orleans Police Department and community, and Thursday afternoon’s indictment came with a strong message from police: You will be arrested if you harbor or aid a criminal.

Since Thomas' tragic death on July 7, police have arrested three people all linked to the auto body shop where the Porsche that hit and killed Thomas was hidden.

Those three were among the six indicted Thursday afternoon, including Kenneth Halley, who is now charged with manslaughter along with a list of other charges.

Bill Cager, the owner of the body shop, was charged with conspiracy and accessory to manslaughter after the fact, and 25-year-old Justin McKey, the alleged driver of the car that hit Thomas, has been charged with manslaughter as well.

Thursday afternoon three new suspects were also named in the indictment, including James Ratliff, who was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruction of justice, and Nephateria Jones, who was also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice as well as accessory and conspiracy to manslaughter after the fact.

The third, John Chambers, who is the only one not in police custody, has also been charged with obstruction of justice and accessory to manslaughter after the fact.

Police said all six of these people, who were indicted by a state grand jury, have been involved in the cover-up of Thomas's death since the very beginning.

"It is incredibly disheartening that within minutes of Officer Thomas' death, I mean minutes of his death, these six people began conspiring to cover up evidence, to hide evidence, to hide the behavior of the people we believe were driving the car or associated with the car," said Superintendent Ronal Serpas of the New Orleans Police Department.

Kenneth Halley’s bond is the highest, set at $1.6 million. The lowest of the six, James Ratliff, still has a steep bond of $400,000.

"I want to thank the chief, I want to thank the DA and I want to particularly thank the judge for setting the bonds appropriately," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu Thursday night. "I think they are appropriate for the sheer unbelievability of how Officer Thomas was taken away from us."

Police are still searching for Chambers, who you can see in the bottom left of the picture above. He has a 9 tattooed on his throat.

They’re asking anyone who see him or knows where he might be to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.

 

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