Thursday, September 29, 2005

New Orleans police looted 200 Cadillacs and Corvettes

Sewell Cadillac took a severe hit from Hurricane Katrina, but not from wind and water. In fact, the dealership was high and dry . . . and empty. Sewell President Doug Stead said he had heard while evacuated in Lafayette that police officers were patrolling the city in Cadillacs that carried $60,000 sticker prices. But the destruction of his dealership did not become apparent until he arrived back in New Orleans eight days after the storm.

"Someone had told me, 'We saw the police driving your cars,' and then when we got here the dealership was in total disarray, totally smashed up, every door was kicked in and we were looted," he said.

All told, Stead said more than 200 vehicles were taken. Some of them were new, some were used; some were part of the dealership's inventory, some were customers' cars in for service.

Cadillacs were not the only high-end vehicles that vanished. A handful of Sewell Corvettes were also gone, and as recently as last week an NOPD officer at Harrah's was seen driving a black Corvette with a dealer's sticker in the windshield.

"They took anything that was drivable - they even hotwired a tractor we use to move cars around, a thing that can't go any faster than 12 miles per hour," Stead said of the looters.
And what do the cops say?
NOPD spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the force "welcomes any review" of its actions. At no time did any officer remove a car from the Sewell lot or showroom, he said.

"There were a number of vehicles stolen by individuals from that dealership and the police department recovered more than 100 of those vehicles," Defillo said. "A small fraction of those recovered were then used for essential purposes by officers whose vehicles had been damaged in the hurricane."

Defillo said late Wednesday the recovered vehicles were warehoused and returned to Sewell, and that NOPD brass had a "very positive" meeting with Sewell's owners last week.
That's great, except for some minor details, like; no such meeting ever took place; the only cars recovered by Sewell have been recovered by its insurance company.
Yet in an interview Wednesday morning, Sewell President Doug Stead did not mention those arrangements and said that, to his knowledge, there had been no interaction between the dealership and the NOPD. He said the dealership had recovered a handful of cars - some from as far away as Baton Rouge - by working with its insurance companies.
It would appear that the NOPD had a real field day at the expense of Wal-Mart, Sewell Cadillac, video stores, gun shops and hardware stores. A security officer at Children's Hospital stopped two cops who were attempting to steal a car from the hospital's parking lot.
Clayton said the officers explained they had a partner who needed medical attention. He offered to them a ride, which they accepted. But along the way, they began acting "hinky," he said, and when they arrived at the destination, the friend wasn't there. At that point, Clayton said, "I told them, 'The ride's over, guys.' "
More from Sewell Cadillac President Doug stead that will give you an idea of what life is like in New Orleans:
Nevertheless, Stead stressed that neither he nor any other Sewell employee requested a formal investigation from any law enforcement agency.

"The attorney general's office contacted us, we did not contact them," he said. "Please make that clear because I have to live here, you know."
NOLA also posts this report that police Commissioner Eddie Compass, who resigned Tuesday, claims he was forced out by Mayor Ray Nagin.
After announcing his retirement Tuesday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass told several high-ranking officers that he had been forced out by Mayor Ray Nagin, the officers said Wednesday.

They said Compass told them the decision came on the heels of a heated confrontation with the mayor. The officers spoke only on condition that they not be named.

At a hastily called news conference Tuesday with Nagin in attendance, Compass announced that he was retiring. When asked by a reporter whether Compass was being forced out, Nagin said no.

But after the announcement, Compass returned to a cruise ship where he and other displaced officers had been living, where they say he told them he had been forced to resign.

"He was going around telling officers, including myself, it wasn't his doing, that he would've never quit," said a high-ranking officer who asked not to be named. "He had tears in his eyes. He didn't want to go."

Another officer said Compass told him, "You work at the pleasure of the mayor. This was not my decision."

Officers said Compass told them that he and Nagin had an angry confrontation Tuesday morning, hours before Compass announced his retirement, which he said would begin after a transition period of up to 45 days.

Reached Wednesday by e-mail, Nagin said that those accounts were "inaccurate."
Crooks and liars, indeed.

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