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Officers injured in during French Quarter 'ambush' identified

Witnesses near the busy French Quarter intersection say there was no warning before the shooting, and that Hansel did not speak to the officers before the incident.
Credit: St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11/Facebook
Officer Trevor Abney

NEW ORLEANS — We're learning the identities of the New Orleans police officers who were ambushed Friday in the French Quarter. 

And although there is not much of a paper trail on the suspected gunman, we're learning he is from out of state. 

It's another headline to add to the other tough ones in 2020. In city after city, Los Angeles, New York, and Cleveland, police officers have been ambushed and shot. Now add New Orleans to that list. 

“Ambushes have been something that have been on our radar for quite some time now. It's something that you always train and prepare for,” said Donovan Livaccari, Attorney for The Fraternal Order of Police.

The two NOPD officers who were ambushed Friday late afternoon in the French Quarter are Trevor Abney and Brooke Duncan IV.  A  44-year-old Georgia man, Donnell Linwood Hassell, allegedly opened fire on the officers from the back of a pedicab. He was staying at a hotel in the Quarter. 

“They were just on routine patrol, stopping at a stop sign.  I mean there's no, how could you prevent that?”

Abney was shot in the cheek and has a bullet lodged in his skull. He is in serious condition but stable at University Medical Center. Duncan's arm was cut by glass from the shattered window of the police cruiser. Former officer and attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police Donovan Livaccari said officer Duncan told him he sensed something was wrong right before the shooting happened. 

“There were certain, you know, motions and glances that kind of, I guess, made the, the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It's kind of, maybe that sixth sense that policemen develop over the years,” he said. 

Officer Abney went to Northshore High School in Slidell. He is a veteran of the Iraq War. Livaccari says the community needs to think of the men and women behind the badge as part of everyone's New Orleans family.

“Policemen are human beings just like everybody else, you know. They're your neighbors. They're my neighbors.  Their kids go to school with my kids and your kids. Just got to keep, keep officer Abney in our prayers,” Livaccari said.

It's a time officers face ambushes and having to police people with addiction and mental illness. 

“This is a time to be vigilant and to make sure that everybody gets to go home at the end of the day.” 

Records show Hassell has not been booked. He was taken to the hospital after his arrest Friday for what was described as a “medical episode.”

Police did not respond to our inquiry, so it is unclear if he is still in the hospital.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson stressed that no arresting officers fired their weapons at Hansel and that the medical issue was not caused by officers. 

When Hansel is released from the hospital, he will likely be booked on at least two charges of attempted murder of a peace officer. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 50 years if convicted. 

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