Former New Orleans Police Officer Antoinette Frank

City of New Orleans police officer Ronnie Williams was 25 years old when his partner on the force, Antoinette Frank, and her accomplice Rogers Lacaze, shot him dead at point blank range as he moonlighted at a restaurant in New Orleans 9th Ward.

Frank was just 23, and had initially been denied a position with the department after failing a pre-employment psychological evaluation. Frank’s tester was forthcoming and stated “I do not feel the applicant…is suitable for the job of police officer.”

Miss Antoinette devised a workaround, and hired her own psychologist who declared her fit. With these new results in-hand she implored the department to reconsider. They relented, and hired Frank following her graduation from the police academy in July of 1993.

She was issued badge number 628

The story of Frank’s descent into lawlessness begins at Nguyen and Bich Vu’s 9th Ward Vietnamese restaurant Kim Anh where both Williams and Frank often worked off-duty security details.

On Friday, March 3rd, 1995, Frank stopped into the restaurant for a free beef steak dinner with her boyfriend Rogers Lacaze who was pretending to be her nephew.

Chau Vu was unnerved by LaCaze’s appearance:

“I always heard gangsters had gold teeth,” she would later tell authorities.

Her concern was well-founded.

Earlier that evening, Chau had a contentious discussion with Officer Williams over the Vus allowing Antoinette Frank to dine for free. Ronnie thought that Frank was abusing the kindness of Chau – he disliked his colleague, and warned Chau of her saying, “Chau you’re too naive, you can’t trust nobody.”

“Vietnamese people are very trusting. When you work for them you become family.” Rev. Dominic Luong, Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church would say when reflecting on the affair.

The last meal my sister prepare (sic) was for Antoinette and Lacaze; she fix them steak and everything and then they kill her.

On the force in the 7th District of eastern New Orleans, Antoinette Frank was quietly becoming notorious as a rogue cop. Murmurs of her holding up drug dealers, and selling the ill-gotten contraband were spreading among her coworkers.

Officer Williams was in charge of doling out moonlighting gigs amongst 7th District cops, and he began limiting Antoinette Frank’s after-hours work. This incensed the young policewoman, and she vowed to get revenge according to her lover Rogers Lacaze.

The night of the killings, Frank and Lacaze visited Kim Anh restaurant twice prior to going on their killing spree. On one of those visits Frank managed to steal Chau Vu’s keys to the building.

When the duo appeared at the restaurant the final time, the doors were locked, and Chau – sensing something was wrong – told officer Williams to stall them.

Frank and Lacaze entered using Frank’s stolen key.

Vu had fled into the kitchen to secure the money the business had earned that day. After stashing the cash in a microwave, Chau began walking towards the dining room. Frank met her in the hallway and attempted to shepherd her into the kitchen.

Antoinette walked up to me real fast and say (sic) Chau, Chau I have to talk to you, and she’s pushing me back in the kitchen. I hear boom, boom, boom, and she (Frank) run back to the front.

The gunshots would prove to be Lacaze wounding officer Williams.

The policewoman turned on her heel and began hurrying back towards the sound of gunfire. Chau and brother Quoc immediately hid themselves in a walk-in cooler that had a partial glass facade. Chau would testify that she saw Frank and Lacaze running back and forth through the kitchen, followed by more gunfire.

Eventually silence fell on the restaurant. Chau and Quoc cautiously emerged from their safe space. Chau discovered Williams’ body lying behind the bar. Suddenly a tremendous wailing issued from the kitchen. Quoc had discovered the bodies of his siblings Ha and Cuong. Both had been shot dead. The surviving Vus phoned the police.

At the trial of Frank’s cohort, Quoc Vu’s 911 call was played to the courtroom. He says his sister and brother have been killed “by a female officer – her name is Antoinette. She came in with a friend, and they robbed the store, and they killed everybody.”

Two uniformed cops, Wayne Farve and Reginald Jacques, wheeled into the parking lot. Officer Farve would state that he saw a black female running a short distance behind a Vietnamese female.

Antoinette Frank had returned to the scene of the crime, and incredibly, chased Chau from the building straight into the arms of the arriving officers.

“What happened to your brother and sister?” she asked Chau. Incredulous, Chau retorts “You was there. You know everything. Why you ask me that question?”

Homicide investigators Sgt. Eddie Rantz and Det. Marco Demma, arrive at the Kim Anh restaurant about 30 minutes after the shootings. They begin the investigation, and it does not take long for them to finger officer Frank as the strange, cover-up tale she attempts to weave is baldly transparent.

Rantz takes New Orleans Police Superintendent Richard Pennington aside, “We’re about to book this motherfucker with three counts of first degree murder.”

Frank was taken into custody, and after a lengthy, middle-of-the-night interrogation, confessed to killing the Vu siblings but fingered Lacaze as being the killer of Officer Williams.

Antoinette Frank and Rogers Lacaze were indicted by an Orleans Parish Grand Jury on April 28, 1995.

At his trial, Lacaze would describe Frank as a “very strange person – it’s like she’s got three personalities.

Rogers Lacaze was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder, July 20th, 1995. He was sentenced to death. Upon appeal the sentence was amended to life without parole.

Just two months later, following 22 minutes of jury deliberation, Frank was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder.

“You’ve already found her guilty of the most horrible crime you can commit in this country – capital murder, first degree murder. Now we’re asking you to put her to death.” Thus spake Assistant District Attorney Glen Woods at Frank’s sentencing hearing.

The jury agreed and sentenced the former officer to death after just 35 minutes of deliberation.

Today Antoinette Frank is housed at Louisiana State Penitentiary known colloquially as ‘Angola. She is the only woman in the state of Louisiana facing execution.

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sources
Killer Cop Antoinette Frank: An Anthology of True Crime Stories by Pete Dove
Killer With a Badge by Chuck Hustmyre
Hail Babylon!: In Search of the American City…by Andrei Codrescu
Murder Behind the Badge: True Stories of Cops Who Kill by Stacy Dittrich
Women Criminals: An Encyclopedia of People and Issues by Vickie Jensen

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