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Tuesday, 17 November 2015
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " NOPD VERNELL BROWN Jr " WAS SRUCK BY A CAR ON U.S. 90 AS HE WENT TO INVESTIGATE A CAR FIRE : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK HEROES "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY
New Orleans police officer Vernell Brown, 47, was hospitalized in serious condition after being struck by a car Sunday morning (July 12) on U.S. Route 90B. (NOPD yearbook)
Family members are gathered at the bedside of veteran New Orleans police officer Vernell Brown Jr., who remains in a coma and in "grave" condition one day after being struck by a car in a chain-reaction crash on U.S. 90.
Brown, a 17-year veteran officer most recently assigned to the department's 6thDistrict, was with two police recruits Sunday morning when he went to investigate a vehicle fire on U.S. 90 near the Interstate-10 East split. He had gotten out of his vehicle and was walking along the guardrail when he was hit by a Ford Mustang, which police said first struck a Toyota Scion.
Brown, 47, was taken to the hospital in serious condition. The drivers of the Scion and Mustang each received minor injuries, police said, and were questioned by investigators at the scene. Both drivers submitted to DWI testing. The Mustang driver's test result came back negative for alcohol in his system, police said, and the Scion driver's test showed alcohol levels under the legal limit.
Brown's father, Vernell Brown Sr., said doctors met with family three different times throughout the day Sunday. They first delivered a somber prognosis, he said.
"Yesterday morning, doctors told us to prepare for the worst," Brown's father said. "They didn't think he would make it."
Since that initial meeting, Brown said his son showed "slight" improvement later in the evening. Phone calls have poured in from relatives and friends near and far, Brown said.
"I leave him in God's hands," Brown said. "I know he'll pull through."
Officer Brown's injuries mean the New Orleans Police Department is again working through tragedy.
Members of the department gathered at a funeral service Monday (July 13) forMilan Arriola, the 20-year-old daughter of Officer Imani Ruffins and New Orleans Fire Department Capt. Roy Arriola Jr. who was fatally shot on July 3 inside her car. Members of the department attended funeral services late last month for veteran Officer Daryle Holloway after he was shot to death inside his squad car. Holloway's death came about a month after police found HANO Officer James Bennett Jr. fatally shot inside his patrol car.
"These kinds of things reverberate throughout the community within the police department," said attorney and former police officer Donovan Livaccari, of the Fraternal Order of Police Crescent City Lodge No. 2. "As much as we recognize that it's an unfortunate danger of the job – one that we'll never fully eliminate – it still doesn't help anything when it comes to pass."
Livaccari, a former NOPD traffic fatality commander, said police officers take great risks when they respond to traffic accidents.
"Vernell's current situation remains first and foremost, but in the bigger picture, this is a major concern for police officers across the country," he said.
Upwards of 150 law enforcement members across the country have been killed in highway vehicle crashes in the last 15 years, according to the organization Move Over America, which aims to raise awareness to state laws requiring motorists to slow down and change lanes – if possible – when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.
Two NOPD officers lost their lives to traffic crashes in the last 10 years. Officer Rodney Thomas, 52, died in 2013 in a hit-and-run on the I-10 high-rise. Six peoplewere indicted in connection with Thomas' death. Nine years earlier, Officer George Tessier died after being struck by an 18-wheeler.
Most recently, an NOPD officer suffered multiple injures after his vehicle wasstruck from behind while investigating a crash on I-10 West near I-610 West. That officer is expected to make a full recovery, Livaccari said.