A woman was shot to death by police Wednesday after hurling racial slurs at a crew working to repair damage from Hurricane Ida in Metairie, Louisiana.
After city workers in Jefferson Parish flagged down police in response to the unidentified woman's racist abuse, she struck and dragged one deputy with her car, prompting another to shoot her 8-9 times, according to media reports.
During a news conference, Sheriff Joe Lopinto was asked whether "long lines" and oppressive heat in the region devastated by Ida, where many remain without power and water, may have been a contributing factor.
"I have no clue about her motive, or any information about her," Lopinto said, according to video from the local CBS affiliate. "I don't know at this point in time. Look, as I said yesterday and will say again, tensions have been high around here. These things are happening. Disturbances at gas stations — we're getting a bunch of them right now. Still, you know, it doesn't lead to this, where you try to run over a deputy. I don't care what the tensions are, people need to learn a little patience around here. That being said, the circumstances with this individual, I'm not sure."
According to NOLA.com, Lopinto said the woman may have been in "mental distress" — and she had previously been committed for mental health issues.
"Many across Jefferson feel desperate after Category 4 Ida knocked out power and drinking water to most of the parish on Sunday, and amid the 18-months-and-counting coronavirus pandemic," the newspaper reported. "But Lopinto said there was no excuse to lose control in the way the workers and deputies described."
The workers were repairing a water main when the unidentified woman pulled up in her BMW SUV and called them "f*cking n*ggers" and said they needed to go back to their country, according to NOLA.com, which reviewed video shot by a bystander who declined to release the footage because it had been turned over to police as evidence.
When the deputies arrived to speak with her, the woman continued hurling racial slurs and demanded that the workers be arrested.
The deputies patiently tried to reason with the woman and get her to do the right thing, but she eventually rolled up her window and accelerated, hitting and dragging a deputy who had his hand on her car. After leading police on a high-speed chase for nearly a mile before getting blocked by traffic, the woman allegedly hit the same deputy a second time after he stepped in front of her vehicle.
At that point, the other deputy opened fire.
The bystander who filmed the incident said the workers didn't deserve the abuse — and he showed NOLA.com another video of them giving their parish-provided lunches to hungry residents.
The deputy who was hit by the woman's car suffered minor injuries.
"They really tried to help the lady," the man added, referring to the deputies. "And she f-*cked them over."
Watch a report below.