Dennis Woltering / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- A police incident involving an unlicensed parade in Faubourg Marigny is now under investigation.
Some Marigny neighbors say the loose-knit Krewe of Eris began parading with music, costumes and fun earlier in the evening on Sunday, but witnesses say it turned into almost a brawl with police later that night.
Ritchie Katko said he started shooting video of the scene Sunday night at St. Roch and Chartres with his cell phone when he saw the police use a Taser on a man. He said one officer tried to stop him from filming.
'The man was tased here near the puddle, where I was pushed back by the police officer,' Katko said.
The ACLU says police had no right to stop Katko from videotaping the scene.
'I would say it's an absolute violation of the law,' said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the Louisiana ACLU.
Some neighbors say people who appeared to be with the parade had been jumping on cars along the route.
Brett Sorge said he was in the parade and saw that too.
'If someone was running on cars its obviously not appropriate, but it didn't seem like the cops responded to the individuals, more like the crowd was somehow committing something illegal,' Sorge said.
The NOPD says officers arrested 12 suspects for criminal damage to property and aggravated battery on police officers. It says the group did not have a parade permit. It also says six officers were injured.
But one neighbor who doesn't want to go on camera says the police response to the incident was inappropriate, and more emotional than professional.
Kira Matica said she was in the parade, and it was all about fun, until sirens started blaring from police squad cars at the back of the parade.
'And they never said anything to us,' Matica said, 'there were no megaphone announcements, there was no verbal contact of any kind. It was just their presence, and those sirens were so loud.'
Soon, she said, the scene erupted into chaos, with police tasing some people and pepper spraying others.
'It seemed completely random who was getting arrested and why,' Matica said.
She said the police totally mishandled the crowd.
'I think the police responded with unchecked violence and failed to communicate in any form. I think it was a horribly handled attempt at crowd control.'
The NOPD says its Public Integrity Bureau will report the findings of its investigation to the police superintendent.
Meanwhile, the new city police monitor is asking witnesses to come forward to tell what they saw. If you can help, you are asked to call the police monitor at 681-3217.