Charles Hoffacker is a compassionate cop who joined the eternally troubled New Orleans police department in 2004 because he wanted to make a positive difference. He is also an accomplished conceptual painter. Many of his fellow officers consider him a pussy—even as civilian locals who know 33-year-old homicide detective Hoffacker wish the rest of NOLA’s cops were a little more like him.
His most famous piece, “The Ghost of Telly Hankton,” renders the famous drug lord and killer using 14,000 rounds of spent 40-caliber bullets. He buys the cardboard signs from homeless panhandlers and paints their portraits on them. His more traditional oil and acrylic paintings depict things like AK-47s draped in Mardi Gras beads.
Recently, Detective Hoffacker came under investigation after being accused of letting his artistic side interfere with his professionalism. On a particularly violent night last March, Hoffacker visited 19 different bloody shooting scenes. According to a story by NOLA.com crime reporter Naomi Martin, as the site of one murder scene was about to be hosed down and cleaned up, “Hoffacker was looking for bullet fragments in the victim’s coagulated blood, which had pooled on the street. Hoffacker wiped his bloody hands off on the sidewalk, the source said, and then he appeared to start writing the word ‘Help.’ A nearby officer scolded him and Hoffacker stopped.”
“While compassion is certainly a noble quality in a normal human being, for a homicide detective, that can be something that is detrimental to you,” Eric Hessler of the Police Association of New Orleans told Martin. “You can only see so much blood and so much violence, and that was a particularly disturbing weekend for New Orleans. It was a particularly disturbing weekend for Charlie.”
Hoffacker was reassigned to a desk job while awaiting his investigation’s outcome—which has given him more time to work on his art. I spoke to Hoffacker about how his intense day job influences his art, his struggle to be a good cop in a city not famous for good cops, and what it’s been like living through America’s recent Ferguson-inspired love affair with hating the police. CLICK HERE to read the Q&A with Hoffacker at VICE…
Or check out the original news report of the Hoffacker blood incident: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/charles-hoffacker-new-orleans-cop-doodles-victims-blood_n_5459432.html