Friends of Doug David, the uncle of a Rancho Cucamonga woman paralyzed in a New Orleans road-rage incident, are rejoicing news that his suspect in the attack is in custody.
Christopher S. Smith, sought on an arrest warrant, surrendered early Monday morning and was booked into Orleans Parish Prison about 3 a.m., according to a report by WWL-TV in New Orleans.
Smith, 30, was pictured in a booking photo that showed him over 6 feet 9 inches, which stunned Sharon Jones, a longtime friend of David.
“Oh my God,” Jones said in a phone interview. “It was like Doug was hit by a mountain. I’m glad he’s off the streets.”
Smith faces a charge of second-degree battery in the Oct. 15 incident near the French Quarter, where 64-year-old music fan David had thrown a beer can at what police say was Smith’s car after it nearly hit him, triggering an assault.
Jones said she was thrilled Smith had turned himself in, “but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s paralyzed.” David, who is single, is being treated at a Rancho Cucamonga rehab hospital, near his niece and sister.
“New Orleans has to do something about their police situation,” Jones said. “I hope that this is used to help New Orleans to shape up their police,” who have been under fire for slow response times and other issues.
New Orleans Councilwoman Susan Guidry said she was “very relieved that this segment of this saga has ended peacefully.”
In an email to David’s friends, Guidry said: “Please know that Doug’s unfortunate tragedy is resulting in investigation of the police policies and practices regarding classification of calls for service.”
During 2016 budget meetings last week, Guidry said, she and her colleagues questioned Police Superintendent Chief Michael Harrison about the police response in the David case and about the practice of marking calls as “unfounded.”
“I am continuing my investigation into this practice and will stay on this until I am satisfied that only calls that are unfounded are classified as such,” said Guidry, who visited David’s hospital room when he was in New Orleans.
David had not been informed by 8:30 a.m. Monday, but his niece, Alicia Foulds of Rancho Cucamonga, was expected to share the news. New Orleans police weren’t available for comment.
An ICU nurse at University Medical Center in New Orleans was first to inform David’s friends via a post on the Justice for Doug David Facebook page.
“I am glad to know that this individual is off the streets of New Orleans now,” said Diane Jones, Sharon’s sister, who created the Facebook page. “It’s hard to put into words my feelings.”
Diane Jones noted “the outpouring of love and support from Doug’s friends, family, the music communities in San Diego and New Orleans and people who just heard about his story.”
She said it gave her some faith in humanity.
“Doug has a long way to go to heal from this ordeal and we’ll all work hard to help him any way we can,” she told Times of San Diego. “He has the important job [of] healing and keeping that great attitude.”
She hoped other supporters would attend Monday night’s benefit“swing dance and blues party” at Humphreys Backstage Lounge on Shelter Island.
“I hope many in San Diego come out tonight to join the fundraiser for Doug,” she said.