NEW ORLEANS - Police arrested three people Tuesday in connection with the fatal hit and run of Officer Rodney Thomas.
25-year-old Justin McKey was booked on manslaughter and felony hit and run charges, as police said Tuesday that he was behind the wheel of the 2013 Porsche Panamera that hit Officer Thomas on the High Rise at around 1 o'clock Sunday morning.
According to court records, police said McKey told them he was the one driving and that "…it was dark and he didn't see him." But the court narrative, called the Gist, goes on to say that officer Thomas was picked up by the car and later dropped when McKey sped off. The Gist also says that Thomas had hit a stalled vehicle on I-10 Eastbound, and that he was still in his uniform after a shift at the 2nd Police District. Police said Thomas was wearing a reflective traffic vest, trying to direct traffic, including the Porsche, around the accident.
“It's obvious to me that the New Orleans Police Department has booked who they think is the driver of the vehicle with the most serious charge with the facts as we know them,” said WWL-TV Legal Analyst Donald “Chick” Foret.
McKey is facing Manslaughter and felony Hit and Run charges. But his bond, $50,000, is half that set for the owner of the body shop, Best of the Best Automotive, Bill Cager.
Cager was also arrested Tuesday in connection with the officer’s death. He was charged with Obstruction of Justice and Accessory After the Fact to Manslaughter. An Orleans Parish Magistrate set his bond at $100,000.
In court Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors said Cager, Kenneth Halley and another man were caught on the body shop's surveillance cameras driving the car in and wiping blood off the front of the car at 1:52 a.m. Sunday.
Attorneys said in court that New Orleans Police found bloody rags in the shop and that the Porsche had a dented windshield and front right side, damage described by investigators Sunday.
Court documents did not say who the third person was at Best of the Best Automotive early Sunday morning, or who the owner of the Porsche is.
In the meantime, family members of Officer Thomas scheduled a funeral for him at 10 a.m., Friday, July 12 at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. Visitation will take place from 8:30 a.m. that morning until 10 a.m., with a funeral procession to Lake Lawn Cemetery after the funeral service at 11:30 a.m.
The Homedale Inn, a Lakeview bar, also began to publicize a benefit for Thomas’ family. One of the bar’s owners is a retired New Orleans Police Officer and has hosted other benefits for officers before.
“We're gonna have music and food and a raffle. And it's all gonna benefit the Officer's family,” said Lisa Chapotel, a bartender at Homedale Inn.
Prosecutors did not say whether McKey was the third person at the body shop with Cager and Halley.
Halley was listed as a person of interest who investigators wanted to talk to on Monday. He was also booked on Obstruction of Justice and Accessory After the Fact charges. His first appearance in court was scheduled at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Police continued to release few details Tuesday about their investigation, only more arrests were possible.