Anthony Cowart carefully climbs the steps to his New Orleans home one at a time. He is still recovering from a gunshot wound that sent a bullet straight through his upper thigh March 10.
“I know I won’t be able to walk the same but I’m going to fight to try,” Cowart said.
He was shot by New Orleans police Officer Isaiah Shannon on Werner Drive in New Orleans East four weeks ago. Body camera footage released by the police department shows Shannon walking up to the parked car where Cowart said he was visiting with a friend. As the officers approached the car, the video shows Shannon holding his gun behind his back.
Once he and the driver are asked to get out of the car, the video shows Cowart trying to run away.
“I heard someone say ‘He has a gun’ and that’s what made me run for my life,” Cowart said. “You don’t know what to expect when you’re in a situation like that and you’ve never been in a situation like that, so you don’t even know how to handle it. You don’t know what to do.”
The body camera records Shannon hitting Cowart in the head with the gun. The impact knocks the gun’s magazine onto the pavement shortly before Cowart is shot.
Cowart was arrested on multiple charges following the shooting. In a hearing March 12, a magistrate judge found Shannon had no probable cause to arrest Cowart and dismissed the charges.
Cowart said his leg is healing but he is haunted by the shooting.
“I think about it,” Cowart said. “I expect the unexpected now, and I know anything (is) liable to happen at any moment at any second.”
Troubling him further is Shannon’s disciplinary file WDSU obtained through a public records request.
Shannon remains under investigation for the March 10 shooting that left Cowart walking with a limp. The report shows he is also currently being investigated for a Feb. 15 complaint for other “use of force” allegations. Another complaint was just closed in January and dates back to May of 2020. In that case, the report shows Shannon was suspended for one day for “neglect of duty” relating to the use of his cameras and a vehicle pursuit.
A request for more information on the Feb. and May complaints has not been answered by the police department’s Public Integrity Bureau.
According to court records, Shannon was fired from the New Orleans Police Department in 2013 after a car chase and shooting.
He won his job back on appeals in 2017, a decision that was upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018.
Cowart’s attorney, John Adcock said the officer’s disciplinary record reflects bigger problems within the New Orleans Police Department.
“What it says to me is that this is not some rogue cop,” Cowart said. “This was not one bad officer. What happened to my client was the result of several different policies that allowed Officer Shannon to stay on patrol March 10.”
Adcock said he hopes the department is able to prove, through its investigation of the March 10 shooting and subsequent actions, that the Black community can trust the NOPD. Adcock says Cowart’s shooting illustrates significant fear among the community today.
“To come up to approach a citizen who is not committing a crime with a gun behind your back – that’s what a bank robber does in the old west,” Adcock said. “It’s just very concerning — someone wearing a badge that we’re supposed to trust is acting like a criminal.”
Attorney Kevin Boshea is representing Shannon currently. He also was the attorney of record in the 2017 appeals decision that returned Shannon to the force. Boshea was contacted by phone Wednesday and said he had no knowledge of the February 2021 or May 2020 complaints. He said he could not comment on the March 10 shooting because it remains under investigation.