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'Failure.' Jason Williams touts guilty pleas, but most cases end in dismissals or misdemeanors

In our series "Discounted Justice," Mike Perlstein looks at cases where the final outcomes may have fallen short of justice.

Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness Investigator

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Published: 10:47 PM CDT May 17, 2022
Updated: 9:18 PM CDT May 18, 2022

In 2020, Horace Toppins was already on New Orleans Police radar as a frequent domestic abuser, with a fresh warrant out for his arrest.

Seventh District officers were serving that warrant in April that year when Toppins opened fire, shooting officer Kevin Doucette in the arm as he tried to serve the warrant.

Toppins, 30, was arrested and ultimately charged with 15 criminal counts, including attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, felon with a firearm, kidnapping and multiple battery and domestic violence charges. On the attempted murder charge alone he faced 20 to 50 years in prison, and given his long criminal history, he could have faced life as a multiple offender.

But court records show that when Toppins pleaded guilty in February, the attempted murder charge disappeared. Eight other counts were dismissed and several more were dropped to lesser charges. In the end, Toppins agreed to serve 10 years for being a felon with a gun, and five years for aggravated second-degree battery, to be served simultaneously.

“That's really troublesome. He ended up with a sentence that's more consistent with credit card fraud, OK, than it would be for the attempted murder of a police officer,” said NOPD Capt. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans.

Glasser noted that Doucette’s wound may never fully heal.

“Very serious wound. Permanent damage,” he said.

Credit: WWL