The photo at left from the Times Picayune is the piece he was working on when he was interrupted, beginning the chain of events that ultimately killed him. Dirty Third Streets, a Houston blog focused on graffiti and street art, lamented the tragedy:
Sounds like it was an accident. But also sounds like it most definitely did not have to happen the way it did.
Here’s a photo of the kid’s work, courtesy of Zudokato. If anyone knows of any other pieces around town, hit me up so I can run and snap a photo.
Sad day. Sad day, indeed.
I agree it sounds like an accident, but I also think that the case suggests possible policy changes that might have prevented it. Here's a synopsis of what happened from the Times Picayune:
Victor Montano from Houston had been in the New Orleans area for about two weeks, Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said Friday.
An East Jefferson Levee District police officer caught the boy spraying graffiti on the floodwall Thursday about 4 p.m. along the floodwall south of Vintage Drive. ...
"When he saw the police officer approaching, the male took off running," Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said Thursday.
The officer followed in his Levee District sport utility vehicle, and it appeared that the youth was going to jump a fence, Caraway said.As the officer's vehicle followed, the youth tripped and fell in front of the truck, which hit him.
What a tragedy. I have several questions. None of them are meant to be accusatory, I'm just seeking to draw lessons from the event.
More to the point, is stopping the activity worth risking the kind of worst case outcome experienced here? I don't think so. If it's really that important to keep the wall clean, the Graffitibuster truck is the way to go. Developing capacity to powerwash off graffiti pleases businesses and discourages taggers who's goal is to place graffiti where, over time, in the words of a Dirty Third commenter (see below), they'll still be "going strong." Rapid response cleanup eliminates incentives. Giving graffiti artists substantial public space adds a carrot to the stick.
Something else comes to mind here: New Orleans is in a full-blown public safety crisis, short on officers, jail space, public defenders, you name it. The murder rate there is the highest in the country and then some, making the bloodiest regions of Latin America look tame by comparison. Why expend resources chasing this guy? Can officers exercise no cost benefit analysis or discretion at all?
I don't blame the officer, I'm sure he did exactly what he was trained to do. But that training and departmental policy led to a terrible outcome, so perhaps, with 20/20 hindsight, there's a better way to handle such matters.
I don't know all the answers, but this case shows the stakes are sometimes higher than just who does jail time or what's written on the walls. In fact, this reminds me to remind readers. Never, ever run from police. I don't care what is your reason or whether you've got a gun or drugs on you. Don't run! A lot of people (including those who run, police officers, and also innocent bystanders) die or get seriously injured in police chases (as evidenced in this instance, even on foot).
Plus, as comedian Chris Rock puts it, if an officer has to chase you, he's usually bringing an ass-whipping with him. That's especially true for young people. Running invites a worst outcome - this is just one example among many.
For those in Houston, another Dirty Third Streets commenter and fellow Houston tagger suggested where to see Mr. Montano's extant work, declaring:
man this is sad. most of his throw ups were in great spots and some are still going strong. i mostly see his work on highway 6 and clay road and some on barker cypress, and west little york going to barker (look up, its on a building top). ill try to get some more pics too. sad day indeed.If I see more pictures of Montano's work (both of the above items are his, via Dirty 3rd), I'll add them to the end of this post as an update.