NOPD to cite officers who quickly closed child abuse complaint case
NEW ORLEANS – A child abuse complaint filed by Russell Johnson on behalf of his 6-year-old autistic son has been closed without arrests, but action is being taken against the New Orleans police officers who conducted the original investigation.
Rida Johnson, whose autistic condition renders him unable to speak, had a large bruise over his eye when his father picked him up from school one day last year.
Despite his disappointment, Russell Johnson was encouraged this week to see the New Orleans Police Department take action against the officers who failed to properly investigate his original call.
“I was very pleased and very happy to see that finally someone really took a look at the facts and the conduct of the people involved and did what was correct, did the right thing,” Johnson said.
Johnson received a letter from the police department stating that Officer Kimara Woods was found in violation of professionalism for her cursory investigation, taking less than 24 hours to basically close the case without further action.
In addition, Woods’ supervisors were cited because it took more than a day to respond to Johnson’s call to police. Now that PIB has found the officers in violation of departmental policy, the case will now go before a commanding officer to determine the penalties.
Woods’ attorney, Donovan Livaccari of the Fraternal Order of Police, said it would be premature to comment because Woods’ penalty has not been determined. He said the discipline could range from a reprimand to a 10-day suspension.
Johnson’s complaint came after a scathing audit revealed poor handling of hundreds of sex crimes and child abuse complaints. In shoring up the deficiencies, Police Chief Michael Harrison this week changed the commander of that unit.
Johnson said that when he originally called the NOPD last August to investigate what happened to his son, a troubling sequence of events left him wondering if he was getting the same lax treatment as the hundreds of other victims who received little or no investigation after reporting sexual assaults and child abuse over the past three years.
“The toughest part is anytime a parent has to go through something where they have a defenseless child that has something like that happen to him,” Johnson said. “To have someone do that type of physical harm to him. It sends you through a lot of emotions and a lot of despair.”
The school that Johnson attended, Capdau Charter, did not return calls for comment.