NEW ORLEANS — An eyewitness to a fatal accident last seek said a New Orleans police officer appeared to speed up to beat a yellow traffic light before striking a bicyclist on General DeGaulle Drive in Algiers.
In an exclusive interview with WWL-TV, Jasmine Radford said she was in a car at the intersection of DeGaulle and Westbend Parkway at 9:45 p.m. Thursday when she saw the accident.
Radford also said that the victim, 54-year-old Carl Odoms, was walking his bike and had not yet left the curb when he was hit by the car driven by veteran patrol officer Derrick Williams.
“He wasn't even in that first lane. He was on the curb,” Radford said.
Radford’s account runs counter to a statement released by the New Orleans Police Department shortly after the accident. In the emailed press release, the department said Odoms “rode into the officer's lane of travel.”
Radford said the officer, who was off-duty but driving a marked police car, appeared to be driving fast to make it through the intersection before the traffic light changed.
“It seemed as if he was trying to beat the yellow light because he was speeding,” Radford said.
Following department policy, Williams remains administratively reassigned pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The NOPD said Williams passed drug and alcohol tests and showed no other signs of impairment. He is being represented by the Black Organization of Police, which declined comment.
In a Facebook Live video Radford posted from the scene, she described the accident as “horrific.”
“Mr. Odoms is over here standing waiting to cross,” she said Wednesday, recalling the tragedy. “By the time I look the other way, I hear a big old, pow! Like it sounded as if he hit a pole.”
Radford said despite being one of the first people at the scene, investigators who responded did not approach her or any other witnesses to ask about what they saw.
“They didn't get any kind of statement,” she said. “They didn't take down any witness statements. Any witnesses.”
Odom’s family said he frequently rode his bike to a nearby convenience store, and usually walked his bike across the busy intersection. He walked slowly due to a limp that forced him to use a cane, they said.
The family said they are anxious to get the results of the police investigation, hopeful that one of the security cameras at the intersection will show exactly what happened.
A police spokesman Wednesday said the investigation remains open and active. Anyone with information about the accident can call the NOPD’s Traffic Fatality Division at 504-658-6208.