Finding Paradise

The man who was shot by a Louisiana State Police trooper last week while driving the wrong way on Bourbon Street was an astonishing five times over the legal definition of drunk driving, authorities revealed Tuesday.

Eric Kullander, who had been out on $10,000 bail on other allegations pertaining to the case, now faces an additional count of driving while intoxicated, State Police said. 

Toxicology tests taken after the shooting showed Kullander had a blood-alcohol content of .416. The level at which a driver is legally presumed to be intoxicated is .08, according to State Police, who had previously avoided saying whether they suspected Kullander was impaired.

Experts say most people experience blackouts with a BAC of .20. Most lose consciousness by the time they reach .40, and some die.

Without elaborating, State Police said Kullander was being treated at a local hospital Tuesday.

He had spent two days at University Medical Center after being shot. He was discharged Saturday so he could be booked on the first several counts, and on Sunday went to the hospital’s intensive care unit, Kullander’s attorney, Jeffrey Smith, said Tuesday.

Smith said Kullander will surrender to State Police upon being discharged from his second trip to the hospital.

According to State Police, troopers closing traffic bollards on Bourbon about 7 p.m. Thursday to stop motorists from driving on the famous, often-crowded entertainment drag for the night spotted Kullander turning onto the one-way street in a Kia Forte and heading in the wrong direction.

Surveillance video of the incident showed the car stopped twice after being approached by two troopers, but it also accelerated twice, forcing at least four bystanders to move out of the way to avoid being hit.

A trooper who placed himself in front of Kullander’s car rapped on the hood while apparently shouting for him to stop, the video shows. As the car continued forward, that trooper fired once through the driver’s side window, striking Kullander in the abdomen and bringing the Kia to a stop.

An expert on police procedure who reviewed the surveillance footage at the request of The Advocate was critical of the shooting. Unless they had a reason to suspect the driver was going to intentionally run into people, the troopers should have tried to stop the car in some other fashion, he said.

State Police said the trooper fired as Kullander headed toward pedestrians and ignored repeated commands to halt.

Troopers help New Orleans police patrol the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods under an agreement meant to boost law enforcement’s visibility in tourist-heavy areas. 

Paramedics took Kullander to University Medical Center before he was booked on counts of forcefully resisting an officer, aggravated flight from law enforcement, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and driving against traffic on a one-way roadway.

Smith said Sunday that “terrible driving” had caused Kullander to head the wrong way on Bourbon, having gotten turned around while trying to pick up his wife near Jackson Square.

Kullander previously worked for a company that ran the upscale movie theater at Canal Place before turning its reins over to another outfit. He also used to work for a company that manages a number of local parking lots but left it last year.

Kullander’s bail could be increased after his booking on the DWI count.

He could face years in prison if convicted of the various counts against him. A conviction for a DWI involving a BAC of .20 or more can result in a motorist’s license being suspended for two years.