Posted on October 15, 2018

NOPD Internal Report Reveals Racial Tension in Homicide Unit, ‘Fraternity’ Culture

Emily Lane, Nola, October 15, 2018

The New Orleans Police Department’s homicide unit was led for nearly three years by an official whose behavior was described by some colleagues as “shocking” and “vulgar,” and who has now been formally accused of violating department policies against sexual harassment and discrimination, according to an internal NOPD investigation.

The former commander of the homicide unit, Lt. Jimmie Turner, displayed inappropriate behavior while leading the unit on six occasions and discriminatory behavior on two occasions, according to results of the internal investigation released this month. The eight allegations were “sustained,” which NOPD policy states applies when an internal investigation finds alleged misconduct occurred “based on a preponderance of evidence.”

Turner flatly denies the accusations. He is scheduled to appear Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 16) in front of an NOPD panel for a pre-disciplinary hearing. His attorney Frank DeSalvo said he was seeking to push the hearing back because of a scheduling conflict.


At the hearing, a panel of three NOPD deputy chiefs can hear from Turner and his lawyer about mitigating circumstances before deliberating and handing down any penalty. {snip}

The investigative report, completed this spring, was triggered by a homicide sergeant’s complaint about Turner’s behavior. It reveals several detectives and sergeants — including African-American and white officers — believed the unit tasked with investigating homicides and other deaths was plagued by a racially divisive atmosphere, though others disagreed.


Many described remarks by Turner that they regarded as offensive, according to the report, obtained through a public records request. Other officers dismissed certain comments by Turner or others as harmless jokes made in the spirit of camaraderie — what one veteran homicide detective described as “a sports team type of mentality.”

The investigators said they found evidence to determine the following allegations against Turner were “sustained”:

  • Repeated remarks implying two close male friends in the unit were gay lovers, including asking which of them was “the big spoon” and “the little spoon.”
  • Giving a male sergeant an unwanted “bear hug,” from behind.
  • Telling a male detective at a triple homicide scene that he was thinking of him while touching himself in the shower.
  • Kissing a male sergeant’s forehead during a meeting at the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office.
  • Massaging a male detective’s shoulders while making suggestive remarks about taking a ride on the detective’s motorcycle.

Two sustained discrimination violations were as follows, according to the report: inquiring whether a female detective was sleeping with a person she mentioned during a discussion about a case; and asking a white civilian employee if she only allowed an officer from a different unit to use equipment in the homicide office because he was white.


NOPD redacted from the report the name of the sergeant who initiated the complaint against Turner, but a source previously identified him as Police Association of New Orleans’ vice president Sgt. Peter Hansche.

In the report, the sergeant is quoted as saying Turner “created an environment of threats, fear and subtle domination,” between January 2016 and December 2017. He also told internal investigators training on domestic violence helped him recognize Turner’s behavior, which he said included threats, sexual harassment, demeaning names, violations of personal space, inadequate work leave, isolation and favoritism, shared similarities to the “power and control wheel,” a diagram NOPD uses as a tool in the training, according to the report.

Turner said in his interview with PIB, cited in the report, that the formal complaint and accusations against him were false and part of a “conspiracy” to oust him from the unit. {snip}


Some detectives and supervisors who attested to Turner’s management said Turner sought more accountability from the unit but that his style created personality conflicts, especially among the younger investigators. One detective recalled how Turner told his subordinates, “I’m varsity, and you’re junior varsity,” the report states. He also punished detectives for being behind on reports, though some detectives said those punishments were applied selectively and unevenly.

The formal complaint was lodged with the public integrity unit in late December 2017. The investigative report was finalized April 27 and signed off by Harrison and PIB Commander Arlinda Westbrook on May 10, the document states. Each instance of sexual harassment and discrimination that was sustained, the report states, was corroborated by at least one other independent witness.

Efforts to push Turner out of the unit “may” have occurred because he was its first black commander, Turner alleged, according to the report. At least three other black supervisors in the unit also separately told investigators that efforts to remove Turner from the post, including the formal complaint lodged by a white colleague and previous leaks to the press about his abrasive leadership style, were motived by racial spite, fear of change or as retaliation related to a dispute between Turner and the complainant about employee leave.

In addition to his belief the accusations might be race related, Turner said during another part of the interview with investigators that he does not think there is a “racial divide” in the unit. Later, however, he told detectives the names of two people in the homicide unit he said he believed are “racist,” though he admitted he had no proof one of those people was racist, according to the report.


The report paints a picture of a unit fraught with tension and division, including among Turner and those above him. {snip} One witness noted people tend to “congregate” with people who “look like them.”


Witnesses, both black and white, who were offended by Turner’s behavior as well as witnesses, both back and white, who deemed his behavior harmless remarked that banter and joking is common in the homicide unit. Their responses, though, varied on whether lines were crossed. One black detective said he was never offended and did not believe anyone was offended by office banter, explaining, “the unit is like a fraternity,” and “the entire department is that way.”

The investigative report also revealed a common fear of retaliation within the unit. At the beginning of each interview, every witness who works for NOPD was reminded they could be terminated for not answering truthfully, the report states. Still, several detectives told investigators they feared retaliation for answering questions about the Turner investigation.