Accused NOPD officers reached settlement

The city has finally decided to settle the lawsuit against NOPD officers in drug planting lawsuit.In a shameful incident of its kind, at least three New Orleans police detectives were found involved in a drug racket. They were found to have planted the drugs — and uprooted the lives of innocent people.The accused are Steven Payne, Eric Smith and Earl Razor.

To describe, responding to an information, the police stormed the building on North Galvez Street and hauled out three suspects, a bag of heroin, a quarter-ounce of crack cocaine and more than $4,000 in cash. Police say they found the evidence in plain sight. The incident took place way back in 2002.But 11 months after the incident, the Police had found that four New Orleans police detectives involved in the raid planted the drugs. And this June, attorneys for the city offered the men accused of dealing the drugs $85,000.

One detective tested positive for cocaine and another was caught using a stolen Social Security number to lease a Corvette. A third officer was pulled over in Illinois driving an unauthorized New Orleans Police Department squad car; authorities found him with some marijuana and a woman wanted for prostitution. The fourth detective resigned as police were investigating a stolen gun found in his squad car. All four officers were ultimately fired or quit.None of the accused had outstanding warrants or prior arrests at the time of the raid. All passed court-ordered drug tests, court documents show.

NOPD superiors declined to discuss the matter until completing a records search. The officers’ accounts come from sworn depositions in the civil case, as does the account of the unnamed police informant. Information about the officers’ alleged subsequent misconduct was documented in internal police memoranda that turned up during the civil case.

All three men were booked with possession and intent to distribute heroin and crack. Each pleaded innocent. But as they awaited trial, the detectives who arrested them ran into legal problems.

Smith resigned from the NOPD in March 2003, 11 days before he was indicted on identity theft charges. Investigators accused him of using a fraudulent Social Security number to lease a Corvette. He pleaded guilty to one count of identity fraud.Two months later, in May 2003, the NOPD began investigating Razor for allegedly stealing heroin from a suspected drug dealer in police custody. During that investigation, Razor tested positive for cocaine. Investigators also found two plastic bags with drug residue in the glove compartment of his squad car. Razor was fired but maintained his innocence.

With the criminal case scuttled, the subjects of the raid filed a wrongful arrest suit in federal court on Aug. 1, 2003.In his arrest report and in a hearing in criminal court weeks after the raid, Payne said he found the drugs in plain view on the desk, giving police cause to arrest all three men. But Razor and Marks both said Payne had the heroin and crack in his hand the first time they saw it. Another officer, Smith, testified that the drugs were found on Gregory Hammond.



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