Ramon Antonio Vargas
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.
A civilian law enforcement agent with the U.S. Army who was shot by a state trooper while on vacation in New Orleans over the weekend will be booked on the allegation that he pointed a gun at the trooper during the encounter, Louisiana State Police said Tuesday.
Ronald Martin, 44, will face a count of aggravated assault when he is discharged from the hospital, State Police said in a statement announcing that they had obtained an arrest warrant in the case.
Martin, whose account of what happened differs sharply from the State Police narrative, was still being treated Tuesday for bullet wounds to his knee and stomach.
The shooting occurred about 3 a.m. Sunday on the riverfront near the Riverwalk outlet mall and the Morial Convention Center, according to State Police, who released new details about the encounter late Tuesday.
A uniformed trooper spotted Martin holding a gun equipped with a laser sight, according to State Police and multiple law enforcement sources.
The trooper then approached him while repeatedly identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, State Police said. When Martin pointed a gun at the trooper, the agency said, the trooper shot him.
State Police, who help New Orleans police officers patrol the French Quarter and Central Business District, also said that Martin appeared impaired during the confrontation.
While Martin was recovering from his wounds on Monday night, his attorney offered a vastly different version of events.
The lawyer, Elizabeth Carpenter, said that Martin had pulled out his gun after he got lost on his way back to his hotel and became rattled by a group of juveniles he believed were tailing him.
Carpenter said that Martin was shot without warning by a trooper who happened to be nearby and misunderstood the situation.
According to Carpenter, her client — who is from Fort Knox, Kentucky, and is a civilian special agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command — had traveled to New Orleans with his wife to board a cruise ship.
The couple spent Saturday night in the French Quarter before the woman went back to their hotel on Loyola Avenue while her husband kept exploring the city.
Carpenter said Martin had not consumed any alcoholic drinks for a few hours before the incident but still lost his bearings as he headed back to his hotel.
Realizing he was being followed by “some young kids … trying to intimidate” him, Martin pulled out a pistol that he had holstered on his ankle and turned to face them in hopes of frightening them off, Carpenter said.
“The next thing he knows, he’s been shot,” Carpenter said.
She added: “I have a difficult time believing that my client would not have complied with another law enforcement officer identifying himself as such.”
State Police said they found no evidence that other people were present in the area where Martin was shot.
Carpenter said Martin didn’t even realize a trooper had shot him until State Police investigators showed up at his hospital bed to swab his cheek for DNA.
Martin’s shooting has likely cost him the opportunity to run in the Boston Marathon, for which he had been training, Carpenter said.
She said it was darkly ironic that her client had survived multiple combat tours with the military unscathed but then was shot in the U.S. while vacationing.
Louisiana law defines aggravated assault, a misdemeanor, as using a dangerous weapon to make people reasonably fear being injured. If convicted, Martin could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, or “CID,” on Tuesday confirmed that it was looking into a case involving one of its civilian special agents who was shot by a state trooper in New Orleans.
The agent is “suspended from all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of the investigation,” said a statement from Chris Grey, the CID public affairs chief.
Grey’s statement didn’t name the agent because he hadn’t been accused of a crime at the time. The statement also said, “We take this matter extremely seriously and are closely monitoring the situation.”
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