Experience

Nejedly police report released

Cassie Dickman, cdickman@lmcexperience.com

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While the New Orleans Police Department’s incident report has shed some light on what officers discovered the night Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board Trustee John Nejedly’s body was found in his Louisiana hotel room, it has also raised more questions regarding how he actually died — which is still unknown at this time.
According to the report, Nejedly was lying in bed shirtless and had “blood and other bodily fluids visibly running down his mouth and chin” on Sunday evening Oct. 9. Among other personal effects collected at the scene was a clear plastic bag containing a white powdered substance found on the bathroom sink.
Although the coroner has released the body to the family for burial, Orleans Parish Coroner’s spokesman Jason Melancon reiterated earlier statements that there is nothing new yet to report.
“We won’t have a final cause of death for Mr. Nejedly until toxicology testing is completed,” said Melancon. “That may take several weeks.”
While District Governing Board President Vicki Gordon did not want to comment on the incident report, Vice President Greg Enholm offered his thoughts.
“I can say that there’s no question this was a tragic death,” said Enholm, who explained he had not seen the actual police report but had read an article about it.
Although a cause of death has yet to be confirmed, the incident report has provided a more detailed timeline than previously reported of what happened after Nejedly’s body was found.
Lisa Finley, a security supervisor at the Hilton Riverside Hotel on Poydras Street in New Orleans where Nejedly was staying, told NOPD responding Officers Ian Santoferraro and Michael Murhammer she discovered Nejedly at 8:05 p.m.
Santoferraro and Murhammer, who interviewed the security supervisor after arriving on scene at 8:20 p.m., reported Finley told them after entering Room 636 she found an unresponsive white male, who was later identified as Nejedly, lying in bed with the lights off. Finley told the officers that was when she notified emergency services.
After the officers observed the condition of Nejedly’s body, Santoferraro and Murhammer called supervisory Sgt. Roy Guggenheim and requested help from the eighth district District Investigations (DIU) and Homicide units.
“It’s not uncommon for homicide investigators to be called out to a scene of an unclassified death,” explained NOPD Public Informations Officer Ambria Washington, adding that the police department is still waiting on the coroner’s report for the exact cause of death.
The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) unit was dispatched to the hotel that night as well and had attempted to provide aid to Nejedly, but informed Santoferraro and Murhammer they pronounced time of death at 8:25 p.m. New Orleans coroner’s office and crime scene technicians were also on scene to assist in the investigation.
Nejedly, who represents the college district’s Ward IV, had been attending the annual Association of Community Colleges Trustees Convention with District Chancellor Helen Benjamin and District Director of Communications and Community Relations Tim Leong — both left the Saturday morning before Nejedly’s body was found.
The announcement of Nejedly’s death came from Benjamin via an email sent to the college district community Monday, Oct. 10, which came as a shock to those who knew him.
“I had always thought that I would leave the board before he would,” said Enholm. “He was only 52; I’m 61.”
Rather than hold a special election, Enholm said the governing board has decided to appoint a trustee to the vacant seat left as a result of Nejedly’s death. He explained a timeline for the appointment process will be released shortly, and the formal announcement of the person chosen to fill the Ward IV position will be made on or before the state-mandated deadline of Dec. 10 at a specially-held district governing board meeting.
– Adria Watson contributed to this report.
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Nejedly police report released