When New Orleans homicide detective Charles Hoffacker isn't being summoned to murder scenes, he paints.
As in artist paints.
“I use art to bring the violence I experience on a daily basis to the forefront of the more cultivated art world,” he wrote on his website. “Art to ignite reflection and artistic creation to spur a dialogue of resolution is the underlying purpose of pursuing this career. I find solace in the tradition of painting to both memorialize and reason my subject matter.”
A look through his portfolio confirms that Hoffacker isn't averse to reflecting what he sees on the job back to the canvas (or whatever other surfaces he uses).
Indeed he once employed bullet casings to create a portrait of convicted killer and accused drug kingpin Telly Hankton.
A couple of other paintings feature weapons adorned with Mardi Gras beads.
Image source: Von Hoffacker website
But now Hoffacker's artistic tendencies may have mixed too closely with his detective work.
According to a formal complaint, Hoffacker wrote a message in the blood from a murder victim at a crime scene last week, reported WWL-TV in New Orleans, adding that the blood may have coagulated on the street.
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The New Orleans Police Department confirmed that Hoffacker was decommissioned last Wednesday over the incident and placed on desk duty. The reassignment means Hoffacker can’t wear a uniform or carry a gun and is not allowed to work on the street.
Hoffacker's attorney, Eric Hessler of the Police Association of New Orleans, said the case has been blown out of proportion.
He said the crime scene was never compromised, and the victim had long been removed from the scene when the alleged tampering took place. He conceded that Hoffacker may have used poor judgment, but said the detective never intended any harm and did not violate any departmental rules.
Stress may have been a contributing factor, Hessler said.
Hessler added that the complaint came on the heels of two double shifts Hoffacker worked over Memorial Day weekend in which four were killed and 15 wounded.
“This was an isolated incident that happened during a very, very difficult time for New Orleans and for this officer also,” Hessler told WWL. “And I’m hoping that the NOPD sees it that way and treats it that way.”
An art gallery owner in the Big Easy who's exhibited the detective's work for almost a decade agreed with Hessler — and took things a bit deeper.
“On at least two occasions, he described crime scenes to me with such pathos, such personal anguish, that I remember distinctly on one of those times tears coming out of his eyes,” Andy Antippas, owner of a Barrister’s Gallery, told WWL.
According to departmental rules of the New Orleans Police, its Public Integrity Bureau has 14 days to rule whether to classify the investigation as criminal or administrative.