NEW ORLEANS – A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on malfeasance and obstruction of justice charges connected to the 2015 death of a fellow officer.
Police said Wardell Johnson failed to properly search an arrested suspect in June 2015. That suspect, Travis Boys, later fatally shot police Officer Daryle Holloway with a gun he is believed to have smuggled into Holloway's SUV. Johnson also tried to cover up shoddy evidence work at the time of Boys' arrest in a domestic violence incident, where more diligence might have alerted police to the possibility that Boys was armed.
"But for you, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Boys would never have had the opportunity to hide the gun and, ultimately, shoot Daryle," the slain officer's mother, Olander Holloway, tearfully told Johnson moments before the sentence was announced.
Johnson apologized to Holloway's family in open court, saying he had remained silent while his sentence was pending. "I'm sorry. That's all I can say," Johnson said.
State District Judge Karen Herman said determining a sentence was difficult. She noted Johnson's cooperation with investigators, his honorable discharge after eight years in the Marines and his 13 years of service as a New Orleans police officer. But she also noted that Johnson was twice sanctioned for sloppy work in domestic violence cases prior to the Boys arrest.
After Johnson's 2015 arrest, police said he tried to cover up the fact that he failed to process evidence at the scene of Boys' earlier arrest, including a spent shell casing and a box of bullets.
Johnson deliberately tried to leave behind a .40-caliber shell casing at the scene of Boys' initial arrest and recovered a box of unused .40-caliber bullets at the scene that he did not process as evidence, police said. Johnson was later seen throwing the bullets away while driving through a New Orleans neighborhood
Police said a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson was found at the scene of Holloway's shooting and was believed to be the weapon used to shoot him.
"Your conduct was both atrocious and inexcusable," Herman told Johnson.
Holloway was transporting Boys to jail when he was shot. The SUV with a fatally wounded Holloway at the wheel crashed into a utility pole. Boys escaped. He was captured a day later.
Johnson pleaded guilty in October 2015. Boys was found guilty of first-degree murder last month and faces a life sentence.