2 New Orleans police officers shot, 1 suspect dead

Mar 1, 2012, 11:30 PM

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A New Orleans man opened fire on officers during a traffic stop Thursday, wounding two policemen, authorities said. The officers returned fire, killing a man and injuring his brother.

The shootout happened at about 5:30 a.m. after officer Jason Giroir stopped a car with the brothers inside. Police superintendent Ronal Serpas refused to say what the violation was.

Giroir, working overtime for the Mid-City Security District, became suspicious during the stop and called for backup, Serpas said.

When officers Anthony Mayfield Jr. and Michael Asevedo arrived, one of the brothers, Justin Sipp, got out of the car and started shooting a handgun, Serpas said. The officers were hit but fired back. Justin Sipp was killed and Earl Sipp, who was driving, was hurt.

Serpas said the officers needed surgery and remain hospitalized. Both had multiple wounds.

“They are in stable condition,” Serpas said. “But they will have a long road to recovery.”

Earl Sipp, who was shot in the leg, was treated and released from a hospital. He was later issued a citation for driving on an expired license, Serpas said. He was not charged in the shooting.

Terry Smith, a manager of a fast food restaurant near the shooting, said Justin Sipp was an employee there who was being driven to work by his older brother.

As the restaurant’s employees sobbed nearby _ not far from where the body lay as police investigated _ Smith described Justin Sipp as a reliable employee and “a good guy.” She was skeptical that he was involved in wrongdoing.

“It’s the wrong man,” she said.

Both Sipps had arrest records, police said, although in at least one case the charges were dropped before it went to trial.

Although it is department policy for officers to wear protective vests while on duty, and they are issued to all officers, the wounded men were not wearing them, Serpas said.

“They chose not to wear them that day,” the chief said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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2 New Orleans police officers shot, 1 suspect dead