West Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) Corporal Scotty Canezaro and Sergeant David Poirrier died in the line of duty on Sunday after the department helicopter they were traveling in crashed into a sugarcane field as they were responding to a pursuit.
The incident began at approximately 2 a.m. on March 26, when the BRPD’s Robinson R-44 helicopter was dispatched to assist with a chase, WAFB reported.
Cpl. Canezaro, 38, and Sgt. Poirrier, 47, were both aboard the chopper, the BRPD confirmed in a press release on Monday.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the helicopter’s tail rotor hit a tree at 2:36 a.m., which sent it crashing upside-down into a sugarcane field, The Advocate reported.
“I just heard a loud boom at around 2:30 a.m., quarter to three this morning,” one neighbor told WAFB. “Sounded like an explosion.”
The chopper crashed several hours before investigators became aware it was missing, WAFB reported.
A search was launched and the site of the crash was pinpointed.
The wreckage was found in a sugarcane field near Port Allen on North Winterville Road off US 190.
Cpl. Canezaro and Sgt. Poirrier did not survive.
A coroner responded to the scene at approximately 11 a.m., WAFB reported.
The suspect who officers were pursuing at the time of the crash has been identified as Deandre Bessye, according to WAFB.
Bessye was booked into jail on a multitude of offenses, including two counts of manslaughter, obstruction of a highway of commerce, and aggravated flight from an officer.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are handling the ongoing investigation.
“Today is a very emotional day for the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said on Monday, according to WAFB. “Right now, we’re asking the community to lift up our officers in prayer.”
Cpl. Canezaro serviced the BRPD for 16 years, according to his department.
Sgt. Poirrier was a 17-year veteran of the police department.
Both veteran officers were assigned to the BRPD’s Air Support Unit.
The two licensed helicopter pilots, both of whom were trained tactical flight officers, were chosen as the department’s “Officers of the Month” in 2019, according to WAFB.
They often worked the night shift, WAFB reported.
“This has been devastating,” Baton Rouge Union of Police Public Relations Consultant Bill Profita told the news outlet. “These two men were just well thought of, professional officers… We lost a couple of good guys.”
“It takes a lot of skill,” Profita said of the fallen officers’ work. “Not everybody can do this, and that’s why these two guys were doing what 99 percent of the population can’t do. They are doing something that 90 percent of fixed-winged pilots wouldn’t even try to do.”
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome offered her condolences to the department and the fallen officers’ families and said she is thankful for the first responders who have been working at the crash site, WAFB reported.
“On behalf of the City of Baton Rouge, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the BRPD officers who tragically lost their lives today in a helicopter crash,” Weston Broome said. “These officers served our community with distinction and bravery, and we will forever be grateful for their service and sacrifice.”
“We ask the community keep the families of the fallen officers in their thoughts and prayers, and we express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the first responder agencies who have been working tirelessly to support our city during this difficult time,” the mayor added.
Sunday, March 26, 2023 Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Sergeant David Poirrier was killed in a helicopter crash in a field off North Winterville Road, near U.S. 190 at Erwinville, at about 2:26 pm. pic.twitter.com/h5AG4LK8tD
— Ray 'Cutter' Spaulding (@CryptidsAuthor) March 28, 2023
RIP. Louisiana Corporal Scotty Canezaro was killed in a helicopter crash when assisting in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle. Another officer was also killed in the crash. #rip #hero #CorporalScottyCanezaro #BatonRougePoliceDepartment #lawenforcement #thinblueline #bluelivesmatter pic.twitter.com/mYB5NoiYOX
— Protecting the Blue (@protectingblue) March 28, 2023
The Baton Rouge Police Department is mourning the loss of our fallen officers; 17-year BRPD Veteran, Sgt. David Poirrier, and 16-year BRPD Veteran, Cpl. Scotty Canezaro. Both officers, assigned to BRPD’s Air Support Unit, died in the line of duty yesterday. pic.twitter.com/iWiSJyuLGd
— Sharon Weston Broome (@MayorBroome) March 27, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family Baton Rouge Police Department Corporal Scotty Canezaro and Sergeant David Poirrier, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, heroes. We’ll hold the line from here.