Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Frank Marullo said that being the victim of a carjacking Tuesday “is nothing unusual. I wish it was unusual, but it isn’t.”
We hope that Marullo’s comments aren’t taken as evidence that crime in New Orleans is simply a fact of life. City residents and their leaders need resolve, not resignation, in order to make real progress in making the streets safer.
The 73-year-old Marullo said he parked his car in front of his Birch Street house and found five men waiting. He said that the men told Marullo to “give it up,” so he surrendered his wallet and car keys. New Orleans police subsequently tailed Marullo’s 2011 white Mercedes, which prompted a high-speed chase that ended when the car flipped. Officers arrested three occupants: Leonard Robinson, 18; Demetrius Givens, 18; and a 16-year-old. What became of the other two suspects isn’t clear.
We’re glad that Marullo was unharmed and that no bystanders or other motorists appear to have been injured during the high-speed chase. The impact on public safety could have been much worse.
Even so, the carjacking has renewed some serious questions about the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in New Orleans. Givens was booked last year with resisting an officer and attempted unauthorized entry of a business. He posted a $5,000 bond and was released. In January, he was charged with simple robbery and released on a $5,000 bond, then ordered to wear an electronic monitor. Last month, a sheriff’s deputy testified that Givens had violated the provisions of his monitoring program. Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson raised Givens’ bond to $20,000, which he posted without an order to return for monitoring. The 16-year-old had been on the same monitoring program until Monday, according to authorities, although the details of his previous arrests were not made public because he’s a juvenile.
The police and court records for Givens suggest a revolving door within the justice system that can allow suspected criminals to weave in and out of court without serious consequences.
If what happened to Marullo is nothing unusual, then residents of New Orleans should demand a higher standard of accountability.