Wendell James Allen
December 19, 1992
March 7, 2012
Age at Death:
Mr. Allen was the son of Natasha Allen and the late Wendell James. He was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana with his siblings. Mr. Allen was attending Navarro College in Texas, but had recently returned to New Orleans to be closer to his family, and was working for Richard’s Disposal, a local garbage removal company. Locally, Mr. Allen was known as a standout basketball star at Frederick Douglass High School, where he played forward for the team. He was one of the team's high scorers, averaging 21 points per game as of January 2010. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, Mr. Allen made the Times-Picayune All-Metro team for small schools in 2010. He also played football at the school. His death tore at an already strained relationship between the black community and police in New Orleans.
A confidential informant tipped off police that drugs were being sold at Mr. Allen's home. Mr. Allen was shot by a New Orleans police officer during a marijuana search of the family's home in Gentilly, Louisiana. At the time of the raid, Mr. Allen was unarmed, shirtless. An officer shot him in the chest at the top of a flight of stairs. He died instantly.
Investigators later found 4.5 ounces of marijuana in his brother’s room, along with a scale. The family said the practices used by the police placed young children in the home in danger too. Among the complaints were that the three officers in the raid said they announced themselves prior to breaching the entrance but body cam footage later proved that was not true. One officer also claimed to have told Mr. Allen to get down before he was shot - that was also false.
Was justice served?
No. The family sought a criminal investigation of officers involved in the raid and the probe of the shooting. One officer's body cam footage was ignored after the shooting.
Their calls for a probe came hours after a police monitor report criticized the NOPD's initial investigation of the incident, saying investigators ignored and mischaracterized evidence in an effort to clear the officer who shot Allen. In August 2017, the police officer was indicted on manslaughter charges. He resigned from the force and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, receiving a four-year sentence for firing a fatal shot into the chest of Wendell Allen. A grand jury found New Orleans police leadership failed to take appropriate action against the three officers who gave false statements describing what happened. While the family was awarded $250,000, the effort required to uncover the obstruction of justice does not equate to justice.