Baton Rouge authorities cleared a Black man, who had loudly proclaimed his innocence, after realizing that the arresting office apparently lied about the suspect shooting at him.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday that he will not pursue charges at this time against 21-year-old Raheem Howard, noting, however, that the investigation is ongoing, The Advocate reported.
Moore released Howard from the $90,000 bail for attempted first-degree murder and illegal weapon use after reviewing video, witness statements and physical evidence that raised serious doubts about the officer’s version of what happened.
On Aug. 7, Officer Yuseff Hamadeh pulled over Howard for driving without a license plate. Howard turned and fired at least one gunshot at the officer as he fled the scene, according to the police department’s original account. The officer said he fired back at Howard before arresting him.
Howard had always maintained that he didn’t have a gun and therefore could not have fired at the officer. Multiple witnesses confirmed that they heard only one gunshot. Hamadeh’s body camera and patrol vehicle dash camera were turned off. But a bystander recorded a video of exactly what happened.
The prosecutor admitted that there was no clear evidence that Howard fired at the officer—such as shell casings or bullet holes. Most importantly, no gun was recovered from Howard, despite extensive searches using metal detectors.
“Based on the review of that, I didn’t have sufficient evidence to continue on those charges at this time,” the prosecutor said.
Still, Moore said the evidence is not conclusive, and investigators are continuing their search for additional possible witnesses. Howard remained in prison because of outstanding bench warrants.