NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Police Department and several other agencies are working to determine if the beating of a Hispanic man early Tuesday by two white police officers was a civil rights violation.
That news capped a day in which the officers, who were off duty at the time of the beating, pleaded not guilty to charges of simple battery but still lost their jobs.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said Wednesday evening that John Galman and Spencer Sutton, who were still in their probationary period with the NOPD, had been fired.
A day earlier, the men told investigators that they beat George Gomez about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday at Baudin and South Murat streets in self-defense after he tried to attack them with a stick. They called 911 after the attack, and paramedics rushed Gomez to University Medical Center for treatment.
His face was badly bruised and swollen and had several stitches and cuts.
But the NOPD’s internal investigators quickly determined that story was bogus and arrested the officers and began the termination process.
Gomez said the men began to argue with him hours earlier at Mid-City Yacht Club, a neighborhood bar, since he wore camouflage clothes. He said they questioned his claims of prior military service — something WWL-TV has verified — and asked if he was an American.
Gomez has said he was born in the United States but was raised in Honduras before he returned to live in New Orleans.
Earlier Wednesday, an Orleans Parish Municipal Court judge set bond for Sutton and Galman at $1,500 each. The two pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
According to court documents, Sutton told investigators he did not remember attacking Gomez. But video showed Sutton and Galman attacking the victim with closed fists, the court documents read.
Attorneys for the men declined to comment after the hearing.
Danny Monteverde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.