Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEWORLEANS-- A Metairie man who killed a dispatcher for the New Orleans Police Department in an alleged drunk driving wreck was officially charged with vehicular homicide Friday by the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office.

Paulette Brown died almost two months ago, but her family says it feels like yesterday, and waiting on the criminal justice system is torture.

'Dragging along all the time, just dragging along,' said Lisa Walker about the case pending against the man accused of killing her sister. Not a day goes by that Walker doesn't think about her younger sister, Paulette Brown. Their bond was always tight.

'We talked on the phone every day. She was two years younger then me,' said Walker.

All that closeness changed in the blink of an eye. On Sept. 7, Brown was on her way to work as an NOPD dispatcher when police say a drunk driver, Andrew Merchant hit the 51-year-old head-on with his jeep.

According to police, he was driving the wrong way on Interstate-610 before the crash and allegedly had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal driving limit. Court documents describe the 28-year-old as red-eyed and slurring on the scene.

'I don't want him to be able to walk away. I want him to get justice. She didn't deserve it,' said Walker.

Inside Criminal Court on Friday afternoon, vehicular homicide charges were officially filed against Merchant.

Brown's family says waiting on the criminal justice system hasn't been easy.

'Pretty much the whole family has been calling back and forth, to find out what's going on, what happens next. We just don't know what to do,' said Walker.

As this New Orleans East family gears up for the next set of legal proceedings, Brown's niece is bracing for her high school graduation in May. The Warren Easton senior knows she won't be seeing her aunt Paulette's face in the crowd of well-wishers.

'Before she died, I passed a message onto my momma that she can come to my graduation, but because of a drunk driver she won't be there,' said Brown's niece, Cellisa Elzy.

Merchant is being held at the Orleans Parish Prison on a $50,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Read or Share this story: