A New Orleans man suspected of shooting to death a Tulane University police officer outside a high school basketball game last Friday evening had just hours earlier been removed from Harrah’s New Orleans casino for not wearing a mask.
John Shallerhorn’s anti-mask tirade on the casino floor at Harrahs was captured by body cameras of New Orleans police officers as they escorted the 35-year-old from the premises. The video was published Thursday by Nola.com.
Later, according to police reports, Shallerhorn had attempted to enter the basketball game at George Carver High School. But he was advised by a school employee to abide by “game-entry protocol,” a phrase widely interpreted in media reports as being asked to mask-up.
Deputy Constable Matinus Mitchum intervened after Shallerhorn punched the employee in the face. The police officer was shot in the chest and killed as he escorted Shallerhorn outside. He had not been wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.
Shallerhorn then dropped his weapon, put his hands up, and waited for the police to arrive. He has been charged with first-degree murder of a police officer. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
At a press conference Monday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson refused to be drawn on whether the shooting was about mask mandates.
“I know everyone is trying to make this a mask issue,” he said. “We cannot confirm this is a mask issue whatsoever.”
Earlier, police had been called to Harrah’s after Shallerhorn had thrown a mask given to him by casino staff on the floor and had refused to leave the premises.
When confronted by officers, Shallerhorn agreed to leave the casino when he learned he would be arrested. The officers handcuffed Shallerhorn and escorted him to the back of a police cruiser.
“I go to Walmart, and I don’t wear a mask,” Shallerhorn complains. “I went to Home Depot — don’t wear a mask. And I come here — that’s discrimination.”
When an officer tells Shallerhorn that Harrah’s is a private business that can set its own safety rules, he replies: “There’s no such thing as private ownership when it comes down to a free land. This is a free land. Society is all screwed up. Technology is all screwed up. Perception is all screwed up. The world is all ran wrong.”
In a statement Thursday, Shallerhorn’s attorney, public defender Mariah Holder, described Mitchum’s death as a tragedy. She added her client was “known as a lovely man when he is doing well, but has a history of serious mental health crisis and hospitalization.”
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