The Desire Terrorist
Another Police Murder/The Feds Build Their Case
While the feds were detaining the suspects in the Groves murder and building their case against them, another major police atrocity occurred in the early morning hours of March 4, 1995. Accompanied by a younger male accomplice, Patrolman Antoinette Frank, 23, with only two years on the force, held up a Vietnamese restaurant in eastern New Orleans. When 25 year old Patrolman Ronald Williams II, working an off-duty detail at the restaurant, responded to the crisis, Frank shot him to death. Then she shot two of the Vietnamese owner's family members as they knelt in prayer pleading for mercy.
Frank left the scene, and then returned in a patrol car as if in response to the call but she was fingered by a witness who had survived by hiding out in the restaurant's meat locker. Frank and her accomplice were arrested and, once again, the city went into shock at yet another revelation of a murdering cop.
A March 14 editorial in Gambit proclaimed "We spoke too soon," referring to its editorial of three months earlier that said, "Our worst nightmare has been realized" in reference to the Davis case. The March 14 editorial went on to say, "Our worst nightmare has been surpassed." It was the first time a New Orleans police officer murdered another officer since 1917 when Police Chief James Reynolds was assassinated by a suspended patrolman.
What made it even more shocking was that Williams and Frank had once been partners. They had reportedly done details at the same restaurant. It was the tragic conclusion to a week that saw 21 murders, the bloodiest week in the city's nearly 300-year history.
New Orleans went into mourning as the funeral was held for Williams on March 6. His death left behind a young widow with a five-year-old son and another son born just nine days earlier. Later the same year, Frank and her accomplice were convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
In June 1995, information was released that Federal U.S. attorneys would be seeking the death penalty against Davis and Hardy. Because of technicalities in federal statutes, the government was precluded from charging them with murder, so they were charged instead on civil rights violations. It was the first time in history that the government sought the death penalty for civil rights violations. Causey, for his lesser role in the Groves murder, was not named in the ruling handed down by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
As the year wore on, the government continued to piece together its case. Gallagher left New Orleans in August to return to Washington but his successor at the local FBI office continued to supply the U.S. Attorney's Office with vital evidence it had accumulated during the clandestine NOPD probe.
In October local civil rights attorney Mary E. Howell filed a civil lawsuit against the city, NOPD, the previous three police superintendents and a current assistant superintendent, as well as against Davis, Williams, Hardy, Causey and Jackson. The suit was filed on behalf of Groves' three minor children, her grandmother and father and Nathan Norwood. The lawsuit alleged that the city should not have hired Davis but, since it did, it and NOPD were responsible for the aberrations in his behavior that led to Groves' death. As of April 28, 2005, the suit had still not been settled, according to a spokesperson for Howell's office.
On October 23, a year and ten days after Groves was murdered, shots were fired in the direction of the house where Groves' grandmother and orphaned children still lived. Stephanie Groves, the victim's 16-year-old daughter, was grazed by buckshot and a 20-year-old cousin was slightly wounded in the back. Both survived and there was speculation that Davis and Hardy had orchestrated a revenge attack from their jail cells. However, investigators later concluded that the shots were randomly fired in a drive-by shootout between drug dealers warring for turf.
The year 1995 ended with fewer murders than there had been the previous year -- 395 as opposed to 421 -- although all of the other violent crimes showed increases. The city and its reputation were still hurting but the numbers were on the way down and, ever so slowly, confidence was beginning to return to the department and the populace.