French Quarter shooting raises questions about a bystander's role

"More people were interested in filming than assisting."

NEW ORLEANS -- Questions still remain about the officer-involved shooting that happened in the French Quarter Saturday night.  And one of the biggest questions is why did it take so long for help to arrive? 

The answer may lie in how quickly a bystander noticed the struggle -- and if he or she called police immediately.

"Somebody call 911" is actually heard as the conflict began. Each video shows a crowd of people mill about with at least a handful of them recording the struggle between a Louisiana Supreme Court officer and Daniel Mathena a visitor from Houston. 

"It's disheartening to see so many people who are interested in filming it than assisting," said Michael Glasser.

Glasser is currently a police captain with NOPD as well as president of the Police Association of New Orleans.

"I can't tell you how the call came in," Glasser said. "If no one calls, how is back-up coming?  If the officer himself didn't have the ability to call it in then it didn't get called in."

But the struggle in the French Quarter on Saturday went on for over a minute as bystanders just recorded.  The fight eventually ends when the officer opens fire.  

Robert Allen, a military and law enforcement veteran with decades of experience and now a professor at Tulane University's School of Emergency and Securities Studies, says those not qualified to intervene shouldn't.

"That's a very tough judgment call because there are people who want to get involved and do the right thing and help and then there's people who don't want to get involved and step back and start videoing things," Allen said.

In fact, in New Orleans, a Tulane med student was shot trying to help a woman.  And just this week in Portland, three good Samaritans were stabbed trying to intervene.

"I tell people all the time, be a good witness, watch what you're doing, make that decision because there are some very very violent people out here," Allen said.

The best advice for those wanting to help is to be prepared to render basic first aid, and use the phone for its intended purpose according to Allen.

"Call 911 and say there's an officer struggling with an individual if that had happened, perhaps somebody wouldn't have been hurt the way they were," Glasser said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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