NEW ORLEANS – John McCusker, a news photographer arrested following Hurricane Katrina as he urged police to shoot him, is set to go on trial Dec. 13.
McCusker, a photographer who was part of The Times-Picayune's 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning staff, was seen driving wildly through the city Aug. 8, 2006, almost a year after Katrina.
Police described McCusker as distraught, repeatedly saying, "Just kill me, get it over with, kill me." He put his car in reverse and pinned an officer between the rear bumper of his vehicle and a police cruiser. McCusker drove away again, but was captured by police a short time later.
He eventually was arrested, but not before he was subdued with a Taser stun gun and an officer fired twice at his vehicle.
One officer suffered minor injuries.
McCusker, who was freed on $50,000 bond, was charged with battery of an officer and aggravated flight from an officer.
Laurie White, McCusker's attorney, said she hoped to avoid a trial. "We hope we can reach an appropriate resolution before that date," she said.
James Arey, commander of the police department's SWAT negotiating team, said at the time he could understand why McCusker seemingly snapped.
"There are all these things you're trying to deal with in your own life — not enough insurance, family problems, your health problems," said Arey, who already knew McCusker. "And then day in and day out, we get to see the wreckage of our city and people's lives. It's not easy to handle."
McCusker remained in the city during the storm and continued to document the unprecedented destruction — except for a leave of absence this summer — while dealing with the loss of his house and other personal problems.