Dinetrius Dillon recognizes the gravity of a murder conspiracy charge leveled against her younger brother. She concedes he has had run-ins with law enforcement before.
But Dillon said none of that justifies the brutal treatment she saw a unit of New Orleans police officers give her brother -- along with her 15-year-old son -- as they kicked in the door and served an arrest warrant at her Little Woods home just after midnight on May 27.
Both wound up in the hospital as a result of fresh injuries, according to hospital records. The man police were after, Leonard Dillon, 23, suffered broken bones in his face and a lacerated liver and underwent surgery because of damage to his testicles, according to Interim LSU Public Hospital reports obtained by relatives. An ambulance took him to the hospital.
Dinetrius Dillon, 35, has filed a complaint with the Police Department's Public Integrity Bureau over the incident.
An NOPD spokesman this week said an internal investigation is under way. But he cast doubt on the complaint, saying police gave rough treatment to the suspect because he resisted arrest and was trying to arm himself. The department also denied that the suspect's 15-year-old nephew, Dinetrius Dillon's son, was harmed, despite records from Children's Hospital showing the boy had facial lacerations only hours later.
The son and his mother say no one resisted police during the chaotic episode.
Warrant squad praised
Following inquiries about the raid by The Times-Picayune, the NOPD issued a news release late Thursday -- eight days after the arrest -- that cast the work of the Violent Offender Warrant Squad in glowing terms, compared with a more perfunctory release that had been issued May 27. The new version quoted Superintendent Warren Riley as saying that "with the assistance of the citizens of New Orleans, along with New Orleans police officers, a planned murder was prevented."
The warrant squad's work often involves tense situations late at night, with officers pounding through doors to arrest some of the city's most-wanted suspects, prepared for extreme violence.
The raid by the NOPD tactical unit at Dinetrius Dillon's home in the 7800 block of Star Street came at 1 a.m. Police were arresting Leonard Dillon on suspicion of conspiracy to kill a witness to an April murder.
Dinetrius Dillon said she was awakened by a loud noise and booming commands from a police officer for her to move to the front of the house. Grabbing two of her children, ages 12 and 6, she proceeded to the living room, where she said police had handcuffed and were holding Leonard Dillon and her son, 15-year-old Vernon Johnson, on the ground.
Dinetrius Dillon said she saw members of the tactical unit kicking her brother and her son as she and her youngest children were escorted out of the house and across the street. Outside, NOPD officers informed her of their arrest warrant for her brother, Leonard Dillon, and said a homicide detective would tell her more later.
'He ain't nothing but 15'
"They finally let Vernon out, and when he came out I could see a big knot on his jaw, " Dillon said. "He was like 'They kicked me, ' and I asked, 'Why did they kick my baby, he ain't nothing but 15, he needs to see the doctor.' "
Johnson said he was the first to be handcuffed by police, as he emerged from a bedroom. Moments later, he said, his uncle was handcuffed as he came out of a separate bedroom in the house, where he had been sleeping with a girlfriend. Johnson said while the two were lying on the ground, police began to kick his uncle in the crotch.
While police were kicking Leonard Dillon, according to Johnson, the teenager tried to turn and look at his uncle and was kicked in the jaw for it. He said as he turned to look at the man who kicked him, another officer struck him on the head with his pistol.
Once he had been confirmed as a minor, Johnson was released, according to police.
Dinetrius Dillon said her brother was not in the front room when the police kicked in the door. She said her family had shotguns and an assault rifle in the house but they were locked up in a cabinet at the time.
Police accounts of the raid differ sharply from those offered by relatives. According to NOPD spokesman Bob Young, officers acted appropriately in a dangerous situation.
When the tactical unit entered the house, Leonard Dillon was discovered in the front room reaching for a loaded shotgun, Young said. He said the suspect was taken down before he could reach the weapon and a fight ensued, leaving Dillon handcuffed and injured.
"The tactical unit uses whatever force is necessary to subdue a prisoner, " Young said, "especially one who is armed."
In Thursday's release, the NOPD said officers determined the suspect "had strategically placed" four shotguns and one other assault weapon, all loaded, throughout the Star Street house, and that a loaded handgun was found atop a refrigerator. It also said that heroin was found in the front room of the house.
In addition to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, Leonard Dillon was booked with possession of narcotics, possession of a firearm with narcotics and resisting arrest. Dillon has a marijuana conviction and was once booked in a car theft, but he has no previous arrests for violent crimes.
Young confirmed that the 15-year-old Johnson was briefly handcuffed, saying it was for his own protection while the tactical unit searched the house. But he said the teenager wasn't harmed and was released to his mother once the house was secured. Young had no explanation for the Children's Hospital report produced after Johnson's mother took him to the hospital.
"We don't know how he got injured, " Young said. "When we got to the scene and left the scene, there was no physical injury to him."
While the earlier police report simply stated that Leonard Dillon was taken to Central Lockup after his arrest, with no mention of injuries, Thursday's release says: "During the struggle, Dillon was injured by the officers and transported to a local hospital for treatment."
Records show that he arrived at the jail three days after his arrest. He is being held on bond of $540,000.
During his hospital stay, Dillon underwent testicular surgery. His family was not allowed to visit, according to his sister.
Dillon's only visitor was his criminal defense lawyer, William Crull III, who was only able to see his client after obtaining a court order. In an interview, Crull said the left side of his client's face was swollen and cut when he visited. He said Dillon told him he was kicked in the groin and struck in the side of his face with a police helmet during the raid.
The NOPD suspects Leonard Dillon of plotting to kill an unidentified witness in the April 2 murder of Brittany Lewis, 17. Dillon had a short romantic relationship with the suspect in that case, Latoya Anderson, 22.
Dinetrius Dillon said she and her children have been staying with relatives in other locations since the arrest incident because her children are traumatized by the event and fear being at home.
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In: News, Other
Tags: murder, mayem, new, orleans, police, balls, nuts
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States (load item map)
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