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ProPublica: Law and Disorder

After Katrina, New Orleans Police
Shot Frequently and Asked Few Questions

Case Four

Around 1 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2005, Capt. Jeff Winn and Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann shot Keenon McCann as he stood on the Claiborne Overpass.

Keenon McCann

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The Police Account

Winn and Scheuermann, who were SWAT team members at the time, said they’d gotten a tip that somebody had stolen a Kentwood Springs bottled water truck. The person—or people—who’d heisted the truck were robbing, raping and murdering flood victims, according to the information Winn and Scheuermann received. The officers went searching for the vehicle and discovered several Kentwood Springs trucks parked on the Claiborne Overpass near the Superdome.

As another group of officers approached the trucks, Winn and Scheuermann watched from a ramp overlooking the overpass. They said they observed McCann standing near one of the trucks, clutching a handgun. McCann appeared to be planning to ambush the approaching officers, Winn and Scheuermann said. Armed with assault rifles, they fired an undisclosed number of rounds at McCann, hitting him at least once.

But when they apprehended him, the officers didn’t find a gun: “We couldn’t find it,” Scheuermann said in a statement to an NOPD investigator.

McCann was taken to a hospital in Baton Rouge. He survived. The police report said he “suffered from a single gunshot wound.”

McCann’s Account

McCann said, in a lawsuit and in conversations with friend Corey Smith, he’d been shot by the police for a crime he didn’t commit.

McCann told Smith he’d been standing with a group of flood victims near the Kentwood Springs truck when police yelled “Halt!” and began firing. His suit states that the officers shouted “orders for the crowd to disperse” before shooting McCann. According to the suit, McCann wasn’t brandishing a gun. Smith also said McCann didn’t have a gun—the claim, he argued, is “totally bogus.”

While the police report said McCann had a single wound from the shooting, his suit said otherwise, alleging he was shot three times and sustained injuries to his “rib cage, hip, kidney and shoulder.” The suit said his mother was present when the shooting occurred.

Smith remembers McCann having “at least five wounds” from the shooting.

In August 2008, while that suit was pending, McCann was lured from his house and killed in a shooting that remains unsolved.

Did New Orleans SWAT Cops Shoot an Unarmed Man?

The tip came in on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, as disorder was spreading through the devastated city: Somebody had stolen a Kentwood…

The Case Files

Case One

Religious Street

There is no police report describing what happened in this photo.

Case Two

Matt McDonald

Why didn’t police tell his family he was killed by an officer?

Case Three

Danny Brumfield

How does a man waving down a police car die from a shotgun blast to his back?

Case Four

Keenon McCann

The gun police said he had was never found.

Case Five

Henry Glover

His skull and ashes were found in the back of an incinerated Chevy.

Case Six

Danziger Bridge

Officers responding to an emergency call opened fire on civilians, injuring four and killing two.

The Reporters


A.C. Thompson

Reporter
ProPublica

Tom Jennings

Producer
Frontline

Gordon Russell

City Editor
The Times-Picayune

Brendan McCarthy

Reporter
The Times-Picayune

Laura Maggi

Reporter
The Times-Picayune
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