Man who killed veteran NOPD officer in drunken crash pleads guilty

Chau Thai Nguyen

NEW ORLEANS —┬áThe man who drunkenly plowed into a police vehicle in 2016 and killed NOPD officer Natasha Hunter has pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, according to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office.

Chau Thai Nguyen, 35, pleaded guilty as charged and faces a sentence of five to 30 years in state prison when sentenced by Criminal District Judge Ben Willard.

The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date, but ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be completed by Aug. 3.

“We are pleased to see this defendant take some measure of responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty as charged,” Cannizzaro said. “We hope for the sake of this fallen officer’s family that the judge will impose an appropriate sentence befitting the severity of this crime. It is always tragic when someone loses their life as the result of another’s foolish decision to drink and drive. When the victim is a public servant dedicated to preserving our safety, that tragedy resonates through our entire community.”

Nguyen’s blood-alcohol concentration measured at 0.16 after he crashed his Acura sedan into the back of Hunter’s police-marked SUV around 2:30 a.m. on June 5, 2016. Hunter had parked her vehicle with emergency lights flashing on the shoulder of Interstate 10 near Esplanade Avenue while investigating an earlier traffic accident.

State law requires that a person convicted of vehicular homicide from an incident in which their BAC registered at 0.15 or higher must serve at least five years without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Hunter, 32, was an 11-year veteran of the NOPD and the mother of a 5-year-old daughter when she was injured in the line of duty. Hunter sustained serious head injuries and died two days after the crash.

Assistant District Attorney Arthur Mitchell IV prosecuted the case.