NEW ORLEANS A local musician says he was on his way home from a gig when state troopers pulled him over, threatened him with a gun, pulled him out of his car, and took him to the ground, then released him.
It happened around 2 a.m. last Wednesday near the intersection of Caffin Avenue and Chartres Street in the Lower 9th Ward.
Louisiana State Police say they were in the area to search for an inmate who escaped from their custody while he was being processed at NOPD's 8th District police station.
Eyewitness video from the incident shows multiple state police cars blocking the street and troopers knocking on doors.
Local musician Shamarr Allen says he saw the blockade after dropping off a friend after a show, so he turned around. That's when his night took a turn for the worse.
'They got behind me and put their lights on. I pulled over as usual thinking it was a regular traffic stop and police were like, 'Get out of the car. Turn the car off, put your hands up.' I put my hands up,' said Allen. 'Before I could get out of the car, one officer grabbed my hand, and pulled my hand all the way behind my back like to the window of the car. Another police officer walked up to the car, 'You move one time, I'm going to blow your head off.''
Allen said the trooper put a gun in his face. Then, he says state police pulled him from the car, took him to the ground, scratching his arms and legs.
'One of them is stepping on my face, literally, holding me down, put handcuffs on me,' said Allen.
Allen said state troopers held him for a nerve wracking 20 to 30 minutes. But once they ran his records, they simply let him go.
'In my head I'm like, 'Maybe this is how it's going to end for me,'' said Allen.
State police say because Allen turned away from the blockade, they saw his actions as suspicious and wanted to make sure he was not the escaped inmate. Troopers pulled Allen over, approached him with guns drawn, took him from his car and took him to the ground, in a controlled manner, before handcuffing him, said Lt. J.B. Slaton, state police public affairs executive officer. Once they identified that he was not the escaped inmate, they released him.
Troopers say their actions were justified and that dash cam video shows they did not put a gun in Allen's face, step on Allen's face, or use excessive force.
'The driver, later identified as Mr. Allen, was uncooperative, didn't identify himself when the troopers asked. He didn't show the troopers his hands. He had his hands in the location where the troopers didn't know if there were any weapons present,' said Slaton.
'I didn't resist, I didn't fight back, I didn't tell them I wasn't doing anything,' Allen responded.
The 33-year-old trumpet player has performed around the world, even playing for President Barack Obama. He has a clean record and is a role model for youth.
But he said it's not the first time he's been pulled over and released. This time was simply the worst.
'That's just, again, the life of a black guy, that looks like me, dresses like me, talks like me,' said Allen.
State police say they have tried to reach out to Allen since the incident, through his public relations specialist, but have yet to hear back.
Allen said state police have not contacted him, although he says NOPD heard about the incident and asked him to file a complaint with the Public Integrity Bureau to be forwarded to state police. Slaton says state police will only investigate first-person complaints.
Now, Allen said he just wants an apology. He's planning to file a formal complaint.
Eyewitness News has filed a public records request for the dash cam video from the incident and is awaiting a response.
An earlier version of this story stated that guns were not drawn. Troopers drew their guns, but never put them in Allen's face, according to a state police spokesman. WWLTV regrets the error.