I don't know that I've ever seen anything before like this emotionally gripping encounter on the video above. In it, former New Orleans police officer Josh Colclough, 29, meets with the mother and family of Wendell Allen, the 20-year-old, unarmed young man Colclough shot and killed while executing a narcotics warrant last March. Shortly after the shooting, local media reported that Allen was a recent graduate of New Orleans High School and was in college.
Colclough met with the parents yesterday, and today he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He's been sentenced to four years, reports NOLA.com and other sources.
WVUE New Orleans, Colclough insisted on meeting with Allen's family yesterday to say that he was sorry. Allen's mother, Natasha Allen, asked him during the meeting, "What took you so long?" Until this week, Colclough had repeatedly denied guilt and said he'd done nothing wrong.
Allen's grandmother told Colclough, "You took her first born. You took the first child that ever graduated and went to college in our family. You took that from us."
When I heard that Colclough had pleaded guilty today and had been sentenced to prison, I thought of Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial. I thought that at least the Allen family gets some sense of justice. Claude Kelley, Colclough's attorney, also makes a connection to the Martin case, and he told WVUE:
"This case was caught up in the perfect storm of Trayvon Martin and the recent Marigny (a New Orleans neighborhood) shooting," said Kelly. "Josh didn't want to add to that one bit. He's here to ask for forgiveness from the Allen family."However, reading a Jarvis DeBerry column from last year will reveal that was not Kelly's initial posture:
Colclough's attorney Claude Kelly had said Tuesday, "An honest investigation of the incident will find Officer Colclough justified. And I trust that will happen."Colclough did not immediately give a voluntary statement back then, and even now the local police union is saying the NOPD did not do enough to defend Colclough. The community exerted pressure to have the incident fully investigated. The handling of the Allen case and the occurrences in the last 48 hours may be a direct result of the heat flowing off the Trayvon Martin case, the campaigns of the family with local activists, and the Justice Department's intent to monitor of the NOPD. When the shooting occurred last year, "it was the second fatal shooting by law enforcement in the NOPD's 3rd District in less than a week," reported NOLA.com. Allen was coming down the stairs when he was shot. Also, according to NOPD, there were about five children in the house. Read more here and here.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has said that Allen was unarmed. Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard has said there's no evidence that Allen was close to Colclough when the officer fired the fatal shot. Minyard said he found no gunpowder on the victim's skin.
Both the officer and the family members broke down into tears during the meeting. Both also agreed to Colclough's plea deal and sentence.
I remember seeing the Justice for Wendell Allen posters last year. My father was ill at the time, however, and my attention was on him.