A Louisiana parole board order to release a man convicted of shooting a New Orleans police officer has been suspended after an investigation uncovered “misconduct” by the inmate, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Thomas Laird, who has served 14 years of a 40-year sentence for shooting Officer Stephen Pepin during a 1989 DWI stop, “engaged in misconduct” both before and after the board’s hearing on the case, said Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder.
Laird is accused of breaking prison rules by trying to reach his victim before the hearing and improperly using a prison computer.
The parole board ruling outraged the Police Department and the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office, which said Laird misrepresented the facts of the case. Laird pleaded guilty, admitting having snatched Pepin’s gun from his holster, pistol-whipping him, and shooting him in the back. The incident left Pepin paralyzed from the waist down. After a three-year convalescence, he has returned to the department as a civilian employee now working in the record room.
In Louisiana, unless a victim of a crime wants to participate in a “victim-offender dialogue,” prison rules forbid contact, Stalder said.