The family of a man shot to death by a New Orleans Police Department officer during a surveillance operation a year ago filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the city, the officer and Police Superintendent Michael Harrison.

The wrongful death suit brought by the parents of Arties Manning III alleges that a “botched” sting that was meant to snare an unrelated armed robberies suspect led to the death of an innocent man.

The suit also alleges that Harrison compounded the family’s heartbreak by defaming Manning as a “suspect” in the armed robberies on the night of the shooting. Police later acknowledged that he had nothing to do with the crimes.

Although wrongful death and excessive force lawsuits against the Police Department were common a decade ago, they appear to have slowed to a trickle since the force began implementing major reforms under an agreement with the federal government. Federal monitors said in a May 2017 report that no such suits had been filed in the two previous years.

Attorney Glenn McGovern, who brought the suit on behalf of Manning’s parents, described the police operation as “a classic systems failure case. They did everything wrong here. They didn’t plan.”

A Police Department spokesman said he could not respond to the family’s claims in detail because of the pending lawsuit.

“While the city has expressed its sympathy to the Manning family following this incident, this matter is now in litigation. The City Attorney’s Office was served with the case today and will handle it going forward,” spokesman Beau Tidwell said.

The suit also lists Mayor Mitch Landrieu and officers Cedric Davillier, Charles Hoffacker, Ryan Rousseve and Christian Hart as defendants. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown.

Officer Terrance Hilliard fired the shots that killed Manning — striking him three times from behind — inside the Carriage House apartment complex on Curran Boulevard in New Orleans East.

Manning was walking through a courtyard at the complex on Jan. 24, 2017, as officers prepared to move in on the armed robbery suspect, Harry Palmore, who lived in an upstairs unit.

Police said their investigation determined that Manning removed a stolen, holstered gun from his pants just before Hilliard shot him. They concluded that the shooting was justified. The District Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges in the case.

The family’s lawsuit admits that Manning’s gun was stolen. But it says he never pulled the gun out of his pants.

Instead, the suit says that testimony from officers on the scene suggests that none of them shouted “police” at Manning. One officer who was supposed to be assigned to a surveillance squad switched into a hooded sweatshirt at the last minute to join the plainclothes “take-down” squad, the suit says.

The suit alleges that the special “TIGER” unit tracking the armed robbery suspect failed to alert regular 7th District officers to their presence at the apartment complex. The TIGER officers also failed to consider the collateral damage that could happen when they tried to collar a dangerous suspect inside a well-trafficked courtyard, it says.

“The poorly planned, poorly implemented, poorly manned, botched surveillance police operation needlessly endangered the lives of nearby schoolchildren, children on the apartment complex’s playground, residents of the apartment complex, and other participating police officers who were not properly trained and briefed,” the suit alleges.

To support its claim that the operation was botched, the suit also notes that the officer who threw on the hoodie — Davillier — was later reprimanded for violating the Police Department’s body-worn camera policy, the suit says.

Matt Sledge

This article appeared in the New Orleans Advocate