In general, it’s difficult for anyone to try and get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to supposedly attacking a police officer. When you add a black person to the mix, it seems like anyone accused of shooting at an officer would be headed to jail quite quickly. However, The Advocate reports on one black man from Baton Rouge who is having all charges dropped against him after initially being charged with attempted murder for firing at a police officer.
On Tuesday, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III announced that he would not pursue any further charges against Raheem Howard, 21, following the accusation that he shot at officer Yuseff Hamadeh during a traffic stop. While the investigation will continue, Moore explained that there was no clear indicator that Howard fired a weapon.
“At this point, I didn’t think there was sufficient evidence,” Moore said. “That doesn’t mean there will be no charges stemming from this case.” Hamadeh fired at Howard during a chase following the traffic stop, but mentioned that this was in response to Howard firing at him. Witnesses say only one shot was heard. Howard was released from the $90,000 bail set on counts of attempted first-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon but is still being held in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on bench warrants from earlier unrelated cases.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said that he plans to release limited footage from the shooting, as well as releasing audio captured by Hamadeh’s vehicle and video recorded by a bystander. No video or audio was recorded on Hamadeh’s body camera or his vehicle’s front dash camera because they were turned off during the encounter, Paul said.
“We don’t believe that releasing it at this time will interfere (with the ongoing investigations),” Paul said Tuesday. No one was injured during the shooting, but Moore said that at the moment, there is no clear evidence of a second shot being fired to justify the charge against Howard. This follows officers doing an extensive search of the area to look for shell casings, even using metal detectors.
“Based on the review of that, I didn’t have sufficient evidence to continue on those charges at this time,” Moore said. However, the prosecutor was clear the investigation remains ongoing, and the evidence is not conclusive that there was not more than one shot fired.
“I cannot say there was or was not more than one shot fired,” Moore said. “Everyone else seems to indicate one shot was all they heard.” If Howard was convicted of that crime, he could have faced up to 50 years in prison.