Images and videos of drivers burning rubber in their cars as they do what are called “donuts” in the street within feet of sizeable crowds is “very negligent and very dangerous,” according to NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson, who promised that his office is diligently pursuing the cases.
Ferguson said that in addition to the video from this weekend that showed such activity in the Warehouse District, that his department has also had reports at other sites.
“You are not professional drivers,” said Ferguson at a press briefing Wednesday. “You are not in NASCAR.”
Ferguson said if one of the drivers of one of the cars that is rotating wildly at a high rate of speed would lose control, they could easily strike one or more of the spectators, who often are uncomfortably close to the “action.”
According to New Orleans Police Captain Jeffrey Walls, officers dispersed the gathering in the Warehouse District shortly after being notified. Walls said investigators on Monday were still trying to identify all of those involved. But he said officers had determined some in the crowd later continued doing similar stunts at the corner of St. Bernard and North Claiborne avenues in the 7th Ward as well as on Downman Road in the Pines Village area of New Orleans East.
Walls said spectators at such impromptu street shows could easily be killed if a driver loses control of a car. A stop sign knocked over during Sunday’s activity illustrated that, Walls said.
But he added that the NOPD does not allow its officers to pursue participants as they disperse because they are not suspected of violent crimes.
The agency wouldn’t want to engage in a pursuit and endanger the lives of passersby over traffic-related violations, Walls said.
So, he added, the NOPD instead intends to track them down now that they have split up and no longer have strength in numbers. They are resorting to video captured by cellphones and business security cameras, social media posts, and called-in tips to identify those responsible for Sunday’s exhibitions, which occur in other cities as well.
He said officers want to secure charges against drivers as well as those who promote the rallies online and block traffic to create the necessary space for them.
Besides reckless driving charges and insurance violations, Walls said the NOPD plans to ask the city attorney’s office as well as the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office whether it could seize any vehicles involved as evidence.