The man accused of gunning down a New Orleans police officer last month has a lawyer after all.
A lawyer for a non-profit capital defense group said he can represent Darren Bridges, 30, who is accused of killing New Orleans Police Department Officer Marcus McNeil in New Orleans East last month.
Bridges wore shackles and an orange jumpsuit as he entered a plea of not guilty to first-degree murder and other counts at his arraignment on Wednesday. Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is seeking the death penalty in the case.
The case had hit a snag last week when Kerry Cuccia, director of the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, said his office did not have the money to represent Bridges due to state budget cuts.
However, Cuccia reversed his position on Wednesday. He did not explain his decision in court. The news was welcomed by Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich.
"The court, Mr. Cuccia, really appreciates that," he said. "This court should not have to be sidetracked by funding issues, nor should the accused or the victim’s family."
Arraignment for Darren Bridges, accused of killing a New Orleans police officer, hits funding snag
What should have been a simple court hearing for Darren Bridges, the man accused of killing New Orleans Police Department Officer Marcus McNei…
Defendants facing the death penalty in four parishes are waiting for legal representation, according to the state public defender board. Bridges's case was perhaps the most high-profile to be affected by the budget cuts in Louisiana.
Bridges is accused of killing McNeil after a struggle on a New Orleans East street on Oct. 13. Police said that McNeil was trying to stop Bridges when a struggle broke out. McNeil used a Taser to stun Bridges, but the suspect managed to pull a gun and kill the officer, police said.
Another police officer shot Bridges soon after. He escaped to his girlfriend's apartment nearby but turned himself in rather than bleed to death, according to police.
Bridges had a backpack full of drugs at the time, police said. Among other counts he has been charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Alprazolam, Tramadol and Bupenorphine.
Darren Bridges indicted on murder charge in death of New Orleans officer Marcus McNeil
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Thursday he intends to seek the death penalty against the man accused of fatally shootin…...Read more