Sgt Paul James Accardo

Sgt Paul James Accardo

New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA
Death 3 Sep 2005 (aged 36)
Luling, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 11696576 · View Source
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Sgt. Paul James, a public information officer with the New Orleans Police Department, died at the age of 36. He was a native and resident of New Orleans.

He is survived by his wife, Anne Zimmermann Accardo of New Orleans; mother, Catherine Denicola Accardo of Chalmette; brother and sister-in-law, Thomas and Gisele Accardo of Mandeville; sister and brother-in-law, Theresa and Mike Schilling of Poydras; four nephews, four nieces and a great-niece. He was preceded in death by his father, Sam J. Accardo. He attended St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in New Orleans and was a member of the Police Association of New Orleans.
Officer who delivered bad news daily found Katrina's news too much to take
05:37 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Cain Burdeau / Associated Press

Life wasn't supposed to end this way for Sgt. Paul Accardo. Alone in chaos.

He wrote a note telling anyone who found him who to contact -- a fellow officer. He was precise, and thoughtful, to the end. Then he stuck his gun into his mouth and ended the chaos wrought by a hurricane.

Accardo was one of two city cops who committed suicide last week as New Orleans descended into an abyss of death and destruction caused by Katrina. He was found in an unmarked patrol car on Saturday in a downtown parking lot.

Back when life was normal and structured, Accardo served as one of the Police Department's chief spokesmen. He reported murders, hostage situations and rapes in measured words, his bespectacled face benign and familiar on the nightly news. He had an almost priestly air about him.

"Paul was a stellar guy. A perfectionist. Everything had to be just right," recalled Sgt. Joe Narcisse on Monday. He went to police academy with Accardo and worked with him later in the public affairs office.

Uniform crisply pressed, office in order, everything just right on his desk. That was Accardo.

"I'm the jokester in the office. I'd move stuff on his desk and he didn't like that," said Capt. Marlon Defillo, Accardo's boss. "He was ready to call the crime lab to find out who messed with his desk."

Order, justice, humanity, efficiency, decency. Accardo epitomized all that, and more, Defillo said. Maybe, Defillo reckoned, he killed himself because he lost hope that order would ever be restored.

A public information officer, the captain said, turns the senseless -- murder, rape, mayhem -- into something orderly for the public. "It's like dominoes scattered across a table and putting them in order."

But in New Orleans for the past week, the chaos seemed endless.

Like the rest of the Police Department, Accardo worked hard and long days -- sometimes 20 hours. He waded through the mass of flesh and stench in the Louisiana Superdome. He saw the dead in the streets.

On the streets with Accardo, Defillo remembered how bad his sergeant felt when they were unable help women stranded on the interstate and pleading for water and food. One woman said her baby had not had water in three days. Accardo wanted to help, but there was nothing he could do.

He even wanted to stop and help the animals lost amid the ruin of New Orleans, Defillo said.

Unable to stop the madness and hurt, Accardo sank into depression.

Narcisse remembered being on the telephone with him, complaining and going on about the flooding when his old police academy buddy cut him off mid-sentence: "Joe. Joe. I can't talk to you right now." Not because he was tied up in a meeting, but because he couldn't handle it, Narcisse said.

"It was like you were having an awful conversation with someone who died in your family," he said.

Accardo -- who lost his home in the flood waters -- looked like a zombie, like someone who hadn't slept in year, Defillo said. But so did all the others on the department and the captain said it didn't cross his mind that Accardo might kill himself.

"We kept telling him, 'There's going to be a brighter day, suck it up,"' Defillo said. "He couldn't shake it."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Cause of Death: Suicide. Victim of Katrina Hurricane.

Paul Accardo is no longer buried at Roselawn Memorial Park. He was buried there temporarily because they could not bury anyone after the hurricane due to high water. He was exhumed and reburied in Lakelawn Cemetery in Meterie, Louisiana, as per Find a Grave Contributor, Ronald.

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  • Created by: Serenity
  • Added: 6 Sep 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11696576
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  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Paul James Accardo (31 Jul 1969–3 Sep 2005), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11696576, citing Lake Lawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Serenity (contributor 46561673) .