Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Still no leads in Uptown hit-and-run homicide

Captain Hosli of the Second District couldn't provide any new information about the Toby Breaugh Uptown hit-and-run homicide investigation at last night's NONPACC meeting.

Hosli explained that his homicide detectives were absorbed into a re-centralized homicide bureau in NOPD headquarters.

The homicide bureau was de-centralized under Chief Pennington, placing homicide detectives under the command of district captains, and therefore, placing accountability for homicide investigations and clearances with district captains. There was also the added advantage of homicide detectives working more closely with patrol officers and other detectives. This led to relationships and dialog that produced leads about suspects and motives. Now, those relationships have been disconnected.

Nevertheless, Captain Hosli's explanation is lacking. The hit-and-run homicide was one of the most heinous crimes ever in the Uptown neighborhood -- and certainly the most heinous crime Uptown post-Katrina. I would think that Captain Hosli would be privileged to whatever information he desired with just a phone call.

Who is this enraged driver cruising the streets of New Orleans? Will he strike again?

For those unfamiliar with the case, or for those who need to be reminded, The Times-Picayune:

Toby and Melissa Beaugh had chosen to walk home after a night of Carnival revelry with friends, which included watching parades from a St. Charles Avenue balcony. And as the couple spent the walk home anticipating another long Saturday, instead, Toby Beaugh died of head trauma after what police and his widow called a deliberate hit-and-run by an unidentified motorist. ...

But as the couple crossed Jena Street at Magazine, a black truck abruptly turned right onto Jena, startling the couple, Beaugh said. They reacted to the close call with quizzical gestures, thinking it was a thoughtless driver, but she said they made no threat.

"No words were exchanged," she said. "We kept walking up toward home. I was a few steps ahead of him. He was joking that I was doing my 'exercise walk.' We were just hanging out, having a good time."

One block farther up Magazine, at Cadiz Street, the truck reappeared, having apparently circled the block. It stopped at the corner, and Toby Beaugh paused in front of it with his arms outstretched, facing the driver, his wife said.

"The truck stepped on it, gunned it," she said. "It was so horrific. There were Mardi Gras beads shattered all over Magazine Street."

Police said they had no suspects or motives Saturday, but they were looking for a white male who had been driving a black pickup with an extended cab. The truck resembled a Toyota Tacoma, they said.

"Mardi Gras was his favorite holiday, next to his birthday," Beaugh said late Saturday afternoon, having gone sleepless since she said she watched the pickup drive headlong into her husband.

“He just stepped on the gas and ran right over my husband, a 29-year-old man … We’ve been married for 10 months and he ended his life. He was a beautiful person. His life was taken away. It's sick and anybody who has any information … please contact the police, the NOPD homicide line,” pleaded Beaugh.

There is a $20,000 Crimestoppers reward for information leading to an arrest of the perpetrator (822-1111).

The vehicle used in the hit-and-run is described as "a black Toyota-type of vehicle with a rounded front and a chrome accent over both wheels."


At 3/22/2006 11:39:00 AM, Anonymous Peter aka Adrastos said...

I'm a Second District NONPACC regular and the homicide hit and run happened in my neighborhood assn's area. I also know some cops downtown, I'll ask around as well as asking Captain H again.

I was there last night. Cut him some slack: there's a lot of tension between the districts and HQ right now. Captain H is usually willing to share info at NONPACC when he has it.

I'd rather share info on this off-blogosphere so here's my email:

At 3/22/2006 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I think the criticism was more directed at the policy of re-centralizing homicide detectives.

But since you mentioned it, yes, Captain Hosli does an excellent job ... most of the time -- and so do the other district commanders. When he doesn't, I don't think it's unfair to criticize -- and that goes for anyone else in a position of authority.

The NOPD ought not to be a shelter for people afraid to fight for what's right.

A district commander's job ought not to be to hide whatever tension exists between HQ and the districts.

If it ain't workin', it ain't workin'. End of story.

This is nothing to take lightly.

At 3/22/2006 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous adrastos said...

I'm not quite sure you understood my comments but my offer to share info remains open.

I don't think the commanders are exempt from criticism but those of us with relationships prefer to do so privately. Why? It helps us get things done. Also, I've worked in the criminal justice system as both a prosecutor and defense lawyer so I have a feeling for the way the system works. So, on these issues I'm less a pure blogger than someone who works the system for the benefit of my neighborhood. However, in your case, you should feel free to fire away. They're big boys and can fend for themselves but their friends are likely to stand up for them.

Btw, District Commanders are not free to publicly criticize either NOPD HQ or elected officials.They have chain of command issues. Trust me, I've seen several of the district commanders verge on public criticism but they have to do it subtly. I don't think any of the district commanders likes the centralizing trend, I know I don't. It's much better for homicide to be in the districts but each Chief makes changes. This is one of the changes that probably won't last long because the decentralized approach works better.

End of a somewhat long essay that tried to explain my position as a semi-insider on these issues.

At 3/22/2006 01:52:00 PM, Anonymous adrastos said...

I forgot one thing: you should keep speaking out about this crime and come to NONPACC every month and keep asking. The cops respect persistence.


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