Slaying of unarmed black riles New Orleans residents

This article originally appeared in The Journal Times on September 4th, 1991. Click here to view the digital version.

He got out of a stolen van. Police bulletins said he had tried to kill two people with a military-style assault pistol. Within minutes, police shot and killed Corey Horton.

The police version is that the 16-year-old black was killed Aug. 24 after he grabbed Sgt. Addie Fanguy’s gun and wounded the officer in the leg. But witnesses say Horton was on the ground, arms in a surrender position, when police shot him point blank.

The killing has outraged civil libertarians and black community leaders who said it was part of a pattern of police violence against minorities.

“From what one can deduce from eyewitness accounts, Corey Horton was executed by members of the New Orleans Police Department,” said Shirley Pedler, head of the American Civil Liberties Union in New Orleans.

In separate rallies this weekend, hundreds carried signs and made speeches accusing the police of terrorism and murder. Protesters marked the spot where Horton was killed with a chalk outline of a body and the words “Corey Horton Executed 8-24-91.”

Horton was killed on a Saturday afternoon at an intersection in a residential neighborhood near the Fair Grounds race track. Four officers had stopped him after spotting the stolen van.

In a meeting Thursday with black leaders, Deputy Chief Antoine Saacks said Fanguy and Officer Frank Polito killed Horton after the youth whirled around and grabbed Fanguy’s gun.

“There was a fight over the officer’s weapon. Both the officer and Horton had possession of the gun at some time during the struggle. He shot the officer, and was shot,” Saacks said.

But Gary Bizal, an attorney for Horton’s family, said he and his investigator have talked to more than a half-dozen witnesses who say Horton wasn’t fighting, running or shooting.

“I think they’ve got a problem. There’s just too many witnesses,” Bizal said.

Police said they talked to some of the witnesses and found they didn’t actually see it, but were repeating what they had been told. Other witnesses have refused to talk to investigators, Saacks said.

Their reluctance is understandable, according to community activist Pat Bryant.

“The people who saw it don’t have any confidence in this police department investigating itself. Particularly when the men and woman – three men and a woman, all white – who participated in the crime are still in police cars, with guns on their hips, and are still intimidating the community,” he said.

One passenger in the van with Horton – his brother Anthony’s pregnant 18-year-old girlfriend, Alethia Smith – was treated roughly, Bizal said. Afterward, Smith began bleeding internally and her fetus died Monday after a Caesarean section, Bizal said.

Fanguy remains on sick leave, Defillo said Tuesday. He said Polito has been assigned to the homicide division to help investigate Horton’s death, and Fanguy will be assigned with him when he returns to work. Officers Robert Canedo and Cristy Williams did not shoot and are back on the street, police said.

Corey Horton was wanted in connection with the shooting of two youths Aug. 12 in the St. Bernard Housing Project near his home, said Sgt. Marlon Defillo, a police spokesman. Police said Corey and Anthony Horton fired semiautomatic weapons at the other youths to settle a dispute.

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