DISCLAIMER: All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Nearly five years after an NOPD officer was shot to death in the line of duty, a trial has begun for the person accused of pulling the trigger.
On Monday, a murder trial began for Darren Bridges, a man who is charged with the murder of 29-year-old Officer Marcus McNeil. In October 2017, McNeil was one of four NOPD officers who tried to conduct a traffic stop of then-30-year-old Bridges.
The NOPD reported that Bridges fled from officers, sparking a police chase and struggle between the suspect and McNeil. Police say Bridges then shot and killed McNeil.
McNeil, a St. Augustine graduate and father of two, was fatally shot during the incident. He had been with the NOPD since 2015 after spending five years as a children’s literacy coach for the Children’s Defense Fund.
Stephen Stephano, one of the responding officers, returned five rounds of gunfire, striking Bridges three times. According to the NOPD, Bridges barricaded himself in a nearby apartment complex until a SWAT Team eventually convinced him to surrender.
In November of 2017, only six weeks after McNeil’s death, Bridges pleaded not guilty to a list of charges that included first-degree murder of a police officer, felony possession of a firearm, and multiple counts of drug possession.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams says he will personally be trying Bridges in the case of McNeil’s death.
“Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends of fallen NOPD Officer Marcus McNeil who was killed in the line of duty in the fall of 2017,” Williams said in a statement.
On Monday, attorneys from both sides of the trial spent several hours speaking with prospective jurors about the terminology and charges in the case. The trial is expected to last several days. If convicted, Bridges could face up to life in prison.