NEW ORLEANS — Former Louisiana State Police Supt. Mike Edmonson suffered minor injuries after he found himself in the middle of a Lundi Gras scuffle on Bourbon Street that ended with one of his companions hospitalized with a serious head trauma.
Edmonson said in an interview Friday that it all began when he was partying with a group of friends, including Texas business owner Russell Allen and Beaumont Texas attorney Stuart Yoes.
Allen told police the three men had initiated the typical version of the classic R-rated Mardi Gras bead exchange with a woman in the 500 block of Bourbon. Edmonson and Allen said a man accompanying the woman took offense and got into a heated argument with Yoes.
Edmonson “attempted (to) separate both parties during the verbal argument,” but became the victim of a simple battery when two other members of that woman’s group jumped into the fray, a police report states.
Yoes, 48, fared much worse.
Edmonson’s group walked three blocks down Bourbon Street looking for a police officer when Yoes was “cold-cocked,” sending him sprawling to the pavement, Allen said.
Yoes fell “to the ground, hitting his head on the concrete”, causing a “3-4 inch laceration” according to a police report. Yoes also suffered a brain hemorrhage that has kept him hospitalized for several days, Allen said.
“It was a devastating and unprovoked punch against a man who wasn’t expecting it,” Edmonson said. “Just horrible. Blood started pouring out immediately.”
Yoes was released from the hospital Friday and was heading to Houston to see a neurologist, Edmonson said.
Robert Harris Jr., coincidentally also a visitor from Texas, was arrested for second-degree battery after being identified as Yoes’ alleged attacker. He also was booked with the simple battery of Edmonson, who suffered a cut near his eye and minor scrapes, but declined medical attention.
Harris, 51, was released from the Orleans Justice Center after posting a $4,500 bond, court records show. He is due back in court on March 6 to respond to a motion by the district attorney’s office to increase his bail.
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Allen said the brawl instantly drew attention from the late afternoon crowds on Bourbon, but when no police officers came to the scene, he and others called 9-1-1.
As Harris and his group left the scene, witnesses followed and identified Harris to officers who were posted at a barricade at St. Ann and Rampart streets, the report states.
After a 36-year career with the State Police, Edmonson left under a cloud after an audit blasted his use of free lodging and other perks. Among those perks were hotel rooms for family and friends during Carnival. The Louisiana Board of Ethics later reviewed the audit findings and found no criminal wrongdoing.
Among Edmonson’s career highlights was bringing state troopers to patrol the French Quarter to assist a depleted NOPD. In the Lundi Gras case, Allen said, the civilian Edmonson was “a peacemaker.”
“It looked like everything had settled down, but then the guy (Harris) sucker-punched Stuart. That’s when Mike stepped in again, and he got punched. I think he was a hero, Allen said.”
Edmonson said he acted on “instinct.”
“I was just trying to calm things down,” he said. “I’m still not sure why I grabbed the guy. I just didn’t want anything worse to happen. I jumped in and the rest is a blur.”
We tried to call Harris or his attorney, but could not reach them.