Surveillance video released Friday shows a New Orleans patrol officer opening fire on the suspect in the fatal shooting of three-year veteran police officer Marcus McNeil.
The clip is only about 15 seconds long, but along with exclusive radio dispatches obtained by WWL-TV, it raises critical questions about the confrontation that left McNeil, 29, dead and Darren Bridges, 30, booked in his murder.
“I shot him once. He went down, but we can't find him,” officer Stephen Stefano can be heard saying over his police radio moments after wounding Bridges.
Later that night, Bridges surrendered after SWAT officers surrounded an apartment where the wounded man fled after he was shot on Tara Lane on Oct. 13.
In a press briefing Friday, Police Superintendent Michael Harrison revealed that four officers in vehicles initially encountered Bridges next to the apartment complex, then chased him when he fled.
Harrison, however, could not answer how the officers became separated after leaving their vehicles, leaving McNeil alone facing an armed suspect.
Police earlier said Bridges scuffled with McNeil once the officer caught up to him, and McNeil used his Taser on the suspect, but with little effect. During the fight, Bridges allegedly used a “unique firearm” to fatally shoot the officer.
McNeil, according to an arrest warrant, never pulled his service weapon from its holster.
“There was a pursuit. There was a struggle,” Harrison said. “And the officer who fired encountered Mr. Bridges but was at some distance.”
In the video showing Stefano firing at Bridges, the officer can be seen running across a courtyard of the apartment complex, spotting the suspect at a distance around the corner of a building, then opening fire and running back across the courtyard.
No other officers or police vehicles can be seen in the video.
Radio traffic indicates that the officers did not immediately know McNeil's location.
“Milk Dud, where you at?” one of the officers asked, urgently trying to get a response from his fellow officer. “Milk Dud, where you at?”
Eventually, the officers narrowed down the location of the wounded officer to Cindy Place, putting out emergency calls before finding him.
“Somebody's got to get on to Cindy Place and pick Dud up,” an officer is heard over the radio. “I think he hit Dud. I heard shots fired. Somebody went down and the dude went running.”
The fact that four officers ended up chasing a suspect without knowing each other’s locations will be reviewed, Harrison said.
“There are always learning experiences and opportunities to learn,” Harrison said. “This will be no different. We will assess this. We will have our use of force review policy where recommendations for training come out of that, those protocols. There's always room for improvement.”
Harrison noted, however, that it is difficult to second-guess officers making split-second decision in the field.
“None of us were out there that night,” Harrison said. “This is a moving perpetrator on foot. These officers were in vehicles…There are a lot of moving parts.”
Officer Stefano is still on desk duty while his role in the shooting is being reviewed.
Bridges was recently released from the hospital and remains in jail without bond. He is charged with first-degree murder of a police officer.
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