Darren Bridges found guilty of murdering NOPD officer Marcus McNeil
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Darren Bridges was found guilty of first-degree murder in the October 2017 fatal shooting of New Orleans police officer Marcus McNeil.
An Orleans Parish jury returned the verdict Tuesday night (Sept. 27) after nearly three hours of deliberations. Jurors also found Bridges guilty of obstruction of justice, aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and four narcotics charges.
Bridges, 35, will receive a mandatory lifetime prison term when he is sentenced Nov. 2 by Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Angel Harris. District Attorney Jason Williams opted not to seek the death penalty in the case.
The 29-year-old McNeil, known to fellow officers by his nickname “Milk Dud,” was on patrol in the Seventh District (New Orleans East) shortly after midnight on Oct. 13, 2017, when he answered a call to investigate a suspicious person near Tara Lane and Lake Forest Boulevard.
During a confrontation with Bridges, prosecutors said McNeil was shot multiple times. Williams, who prosecuted the case with assistant district attorney Andre Gaudin, said Bridges stood over McNeil to fire a fatal shot to the back of his head in what the DA described to jurors as “an execution.”
We have lost one of our brothers. NOPD grieves this morning.— New Orleans Police Department (@NOPDNews) October 13, 2017
Though the killing was captured on video surveillance cameras and police body-worn cameras, defense attorneys Kerry Cuccia and Christian Bonin attempted to convince jurors that the images did not tell the whole story of their client’s encounter with police, and argued the homicide could be seen as justifiable.
NOPD Supt. Shaun Ferguson reacted with relief to the verdict.
“We are pleased that the jury delivered justice to the family of slain officer Marcus McNeil,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I want to assure the McNeil family that their NOPD family is with them now and will remain with them forever. The men and women who served with Officer McNeil can rest easier, knowing that justice has been served.
“I want to especially thank District Attorney Jason Williams and his team for bringing this prosecution to a successful conclusion. It is encouraging to see the criminal justice system work as it should, and that the perpetrator that took the life of a man who served his city selflessly will be held accountable for his actions.”
An Orleans Parish grand jury indicted Bridges for first-degree murder of a police officer and the other charges on Nov. 17, 2017. At the time, Williams’ predecessor Leon Cannizzaro Jr. was the New Orleans district attorney and said the death penalty would be appropriate for the case.
McNeil had been on the police force only three years when he was murdered, leaving behind a wife and two young children.
Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in 2017 that McNeil’s murder “strikes at the heart of the city.”
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