Sometimes, the messages are in plain sight. The case goes for a 21-year-old Lousiana native who has been falsely accused of shooting an officer during a routine traffic stop.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III dropped attempted murder charges against Raheem Howard on Tuesday (Sept. 4) who was arrested after a shooting that happened last month. The Advocate reports Officer Yuseff Hamadeh pulled over Howard after spotting missing license plates on his vehicle on Aug. 7. Howard fled the vehicle leading to a foot chase with Hamadeh. It was reported that Howard fired a weapon at the officer, with Hamadeh returning fire.
Howard was arrested a few days later as the investigation began. In between, footage from WAFB9 revealed Howard professing his innocence with reporters while being led to a police car in handcuffs.
“They said I had a gun, I didn’t have a gun. They have dashcam and bodycam [footage]. I got out and ran, I didn’t have nothing.” After a reporter asked if it was his car, he continued to plead his case. “Yes, it’s my car. I didn’t have a gun. I’m innocent. I asked to take a lie detector test and everything, DNA, everything. They were boku (a lot) of witnesses out there, even the people in my car. I gave them names. I’m only 21-years-old. I’m innocent. They got the body cameras, I didn’t do nothing but run. That’s all I did.”
In a statement to reporters, Baton Rouge Chief Murphy Paul said minute amounts of video and audio will be released today. Moore also added that there was not enough evidence to prove Howard had a weapon or fired at Hamadeh. The officer’s body cam and dash were also reportedly turned off during the incident, leading to more speculation from Howard’s lawyer Ron Haley.
“He didn’t have it. There was no evidence. Because he didn’t have a gun, he didn’t fire a shot,” he told WAFB9. And I think the suppression of the evidence by the cameras either malfunctioning or being willfully turned off only [leads] to that argument.”
Paul confirmed that the officer’s rear vehicle camera was facing down during the traffic stop while his body camera and patrol car’s front camera were off. The notion bears a similar reflection to the officer-related shooting of Jordan Frazier. The father of seven was killed by Hamadeh in 2017 after an encounter. Reports were murky, but it was reported that the 35-year-old was in possession of drugs and a weapon at the time of the shooting. It isn’t known if Hamadeh was put on administrative leave after the shooting.
Howard was released from the $90,000 bail but is still being held in Parish Prison on bench warrants from unrelated cases.