|Funeral for NOPD's Nicola D. Cotton|
From the TP:
On Monday morning in Central City, the officer with the million-dollar grin encountered a middle-aged homeless man who reportedly suffered from mental illness. Police said she approached Bernel Johnson, 44, of Kenner, as he was sitting in a small strip mall parking lot in the 2100 block of Earhart Boulevard.
At some point, Johnson allegedly attacked Cotton, wrestled away her gun, beat her and shot her. She was pronounced dead a short while later.
He didn't just shoot her. He emptied her gun into her body.
My husband works near the murder scene and said he heard at least ten shots.
News of Cotton's death spread through the law enforcement community across the country. Patrol cars parked near the New Hope Baptist Church in Central City bore the names of the Jackson, Miss., department, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office in Montana and more.
Cotton's commanding officer, Maj. Robert Bardy, stepped to the microphone and, with his voice shaking slightly, the grizzled veteran called Friday "one of the hardest days of my life."
He spoke of how he would use Cotton and her partner Latrice Selders as an example to other officers -- sometimes to embarrass them. He said the pair of young officers often outperformed their peers.
Nicola Diane Cotton
COTTON Officer Nicola Diane Cotton on Monday, January 28, 2008, age 24 years. Beloved daughter of Jeannette Cotton and the late Hosea Robinson. Sister of Olydia Cotton-Willis and Monique Cotton. Granddaughter of James Cotton and the late Izella Cotton and Herbert Robinson. Niece of Mable Cotton, Vernell Wilkerson, Tyrone Cotton, Henry Cotton and Sherrine Cotton. Aunt of Jasmin, McKenzie and Jamar. Officer Cotton was a two and a half year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department and assigned to the 6th Police District. Relatives, friends, also members of the New Orleans Police Department, Warren Easton High School class of 2001, Carter G. Woodson Middle School and Delgado Community College are invited to attend the Funeral Services at New Hope Baptist Church, 1807 LaSalle Street, New Orleans, LA, on Friday, February 1, 2008 at 12:00 PM. Interment will follow in Greenwood Cemetery. Visitation on Friday from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM. To view and sign the guest book, please go to www.lakelawnmetairie.com.
Published in The Times-Picayune on 1/30/2008.