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Trial video shows a New Orleans police officer tasering a suspect and then shooting him dead

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As Darren Bridges spun on the lawn under the 10-second shock of a taser, New Orleans police officer Marcus McNeil yelled at him to show his hands.

When Bridges did it, he had a red revolver in his left palm.

On Thursday, the fourth day of Bridge’s first-degree murder trial in Criminal District Court, a jury looked at McNeil’s body-worn and taser camera footage, which showed a frenetic foot chase punctuated with the zap-zap-zap of the stun gun and finally three rapid-fire shots.

Marcus McNeil, a New Orleans police officer since 2014, was fatally shot on October 13, 2017.

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PHOTO BY NEW ORLEANS POLICE

Bridges, 35, is accused of shooting dead McNeil, 29, on Oct. 13, 2017 amid a scuffle in the 6800 block of Cindy Place in a New Orleans East neighborhood under a special police patrol.

Just after midnight, prosecutors said, McNeil gave chase to an individual his colleagues had identified as a suspect: a white-shirted man running with a Pokémon backpack.

McNeil fired his taser into Bridge’s back. Bridges collapsed, video showed, when McNeil threatened to repeatedly stun him until he showed his hands.

Bloody Evidence

Thursday’s testimony was filled with multiple clips of video footage and photographs as officers reported the pursuit, the shooting of McNeil and the events that followed: Officers shot and wounded a fleeing Bridges and then found him at his home.

There they discovered the bloodied blue, red and white jersey Bridges was wearing in the video footage from McNeil’s cameras, two taser prongs still stuck in the back of the sleeveless shirt. They found a red-lacquered revolver in a brown boot hidden in a closet.

They also found the Pokémon backpack, filled with several illegal drugs and a hodgepodge of other items: a rusty screwdriver, four razor blades, an orange calculator, and a red water bottle. In addition to first-degree murder, Bridges faces various charges of assault, obstruction of justice and drug offenses.

use of force

Lt. John Helou, who investigated the use of force in the case, testified that McNeil used a less lethal weapon than a conventional firearm, a taser, against Bridges as the runner attempted to evade capture.

But Bridges’ attorney, Christian Bonin, pointed out that McNeil did not identify himself as a police officer before firing the taser and before Bridges drew a gun. He seemed to imply that Bridges might not have known McNeil was a police officer during their midnight-in-the-dark chase. That night, instead of wearing a standard striped uniform, McNeil, a member of a specialized task force, wore cargo pants and a black polo shirt with a police department logo on the front and back.

Defense attorneys have argued Bridges acted in self-defense and only fired at McNeil because he was in imminent danger. In an opening statement on Wednesday, Bonin said Bridges only shot McNeil because he was “out of options, unable to run” after being stunned with the taser.

But when District Attorney Jason Williams questioned Helou, he was holding the bright yellow taser in his right hand and the red revolver in his left. “Which of these is deadlier?” he asked.

“The gun,” Helou replied.

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