NEW ORLEANS — UPDATE: The New Orleans Police Department said Thursday that an investigation into this incident revealed that the initial 911 caller did not speak to a NOPD officer. Police say the woman spoke with a city constable.
Original Story Below:
The New Orleans Police Department is looking into an unusual 9-1-1 call about a rape in plain sight on a French Quarter street corner on July 26 as well as an internal investigation into whether officers near the scene failed to respond to the passed out victim.
The situation at the corner of Royal and Toulouse streets has since gone viral on social media after an alleged witness posted about the case on Twitter.
The matter drew even more attention Tuesday after The Lens investigative website obtained a recording of the five-minute 9-1-1 call from a witness.
The call starts as a relatively calm call for police help. But the call quickly escalates into what sounds like a dire emergency: an unresponsive woman in the street raped in plain sight and not only are people in the area, so are police officers who fail to jump into action.
“Two police officers just drove by. I know they saw that and they did not stop. Somebody needs to respond to that. She is being raped,” the caller said.
But as the minutes pass, the woman can be heard growing more frantic, and she considers confronting the rapist herself.
"I probably should f***ing walk up there. Like this poor girl. I mean, I am going to get up there faster than this f***ing cop is," the caller said.
"The police officer hasn't even moved. He's still just parked here," the woman said. "Like what the f*** are you even doing."
After two minutes pass, the woman said "He's still not even coming!"
The dispatcher responds: Ma’am, this is … I can’t speak freely … I understand,”
The woman adds that she also spotted another police car driving past the scene without stopping.
The caller said she returned to the corner and found the victim without a pulse.
"He's f***ing gone!," the caller said. "This f***ing cop is still a block away and this girl got raped on the street corner!"
Independent Police Monitor Stella Cziment confirmed Tuesday that her office is investigating the matter along with the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau.
“The allegation of misconduct and the allegation of the sexual assault. We needed to ensure that both were going to move ahead,” Cziment said.
Cziment said her office began looking at the case after an anonymous complainant called her office about the lack of police response. She said the publication of the 9-1-1 call has added more urgency to the investigation.
“It is concerning. It is what we would consider to be supporting evidence to the allegations that were raised against the NOPD,” Cziment said.
She said the situation raises a wide range of potential issues.
“Do we have a larger question about training?” Cziment asked. “Do we have a larger question about policy? Do we have larger concerns about police responses in general?”
An NOPD spokesman Tuesday confirmed both the investigation into the alleged aggravated rape as well as the police response.
In an email, spokesman Gary Scheets wrote, “The victim in this incident has yet to come forward and participate in the investigation. If and/or when she does, investigators will be able to move further with the investigation.”
As for the police response, Scheets wrote, “Investigators are searching for security camera footage from the area that will shed more light on the circumstances that transpired prior to the incident and determine if the allegations related to the response are credible. The Public Integrity Bureau has also opened an investigation into the response to this incident. Currently, no specific officer has been identified as having possibly not responded properly.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Special Victims Section at 504-658-5525 or call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111. Anyone with information regarding the police response is asked to contact the Public Integrity Bureau at 504-658-6800.