A New Orleans Police Department officer was arrested Saturday (Sept. 9) and accused of raping a Kenner woman while she was intoxicated.
William Burford, a 28-year-old probationary officer with NOPD, was booked with third-degree rape, said Lt. Brian McGregor, spokesman for the Kenner Police Department.
Burford and the 20-year-old victim know each other through mutual friends, according to authorities. The woman told police she had been asleep in a bed at a Kenner residence after drinking for several hours with him and others, an arrest report said.
She woke to find Burford on top of her. She wasn’t able to push him off because of his weight and her intoxicated state, McGregor said.
The woman went to a hospital on Saturday. Staffers contacted Kenner police to report the rape.
When questioned by investigators Burford told police the sex was consensual, according to McGregor.
“He knew she was intoxicated,” McGregor said. “He thought it was ok. I don’t know what led him to believe that.”
Kenner investigators booked Burford with third-degree rape because the victim was impaired and unable to put up any resistance to his actions, McGregor said.
Burford was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna. He was released Sunday on a $25,000 bond.
Burford has been placed on emergency suspension without pay while the incident is investigated by the department’s Public Integrity Bureau, NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell said.
“The allegations against Mr. Burford in no way reflect the values of the NOPD,” Tidwell said.
Burford was hired by NOPD in December 2015 and graduated from the police academy with Class 176 in October 2016. Tidwell said Burford was working in NOPD’s Fifth District which polices Bywater, Lower 9th Ward and Upper 9th Ward.
Tidwell confirmed Burford is a probationary officer. NOPD recruits who graduate from the academy work for a period of time as a probationary officer before they obtain civil service protections.
Including Buford, at least four current or former members of NOPD recruit classes who went through the academy in 2016 have been arrested in the New Orleans metro area.
In March of this year, Justin Hammonds, then 29, was arrested by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and booked with domestic abuse battery. Hammonds was an NOPD recruit at the time — a member of Class 179, which graduated in July 2017. The department dismissed Hammonds March 21, Tidwell said.
In October 2016, Jacob Dye, then 21, was accused of breaking into a Mandeville hair salon and arrested by Mandeville police on a burglary charge. Dye was an NOPD recruit at the time — a member of Class 175, which graduated in July 2016. Dye resigned Oct. 14, 2016, while he was under investigation by the Public Integrity Bureau, Tidwell said.
In February 2016, Gerald Elwood III, then 28, was booked with DWI after NOPD said he tried to drive around a multi-vehicle traffic crash on Interstate 10. Elwood was a recruit at the time — also member of Class 175. NOPD dismissed Elwood May 20, 2016, Tidwell said.
A team of federal monitors issued a report this January criticizing NOPD’s hiring practices. The team, which audited recruit files as part of its federal consent decree oversight duties, said the department overlooked “risk indicators” and that NOPD “may be accepting candidates into the academy who should not be NOPD officers.”
After the federal monitors published the report, NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison told reporters the department had already started addressing issues with documentation noted by the report. He said NOPD also added new accountability measures, including mechanisms to give investigators who perform background checks more time if they need it.