The Telly Hankton Story: “New Orleans’ Most Dangerous Man”


It’s no secret that our society has a strong fixation with criminals. As much as we condemn them on the surface and in the news, we idolize them through all other facets of our entertainment and media, proving that there is a vicarious connection that exists, even though most would probably deny their urges towards criminality if probed. I mean seriously though, when told not to push the red button…everyone knows what happens? By human nature, if we’re told we can’t do something for so long, at some point even if we don’t act on it…the DESIRE to go against the rules is birthed through condition.

Scarface, the murderous drug kingpin that killed his best friend for falling in love with his sister, is a cultural icon because he seized the world and made something out of nothing.

    

Dexter (the hero is a serial killer), The Sopranos (protagonists are a mob family) and Weeds (main character sells “drugs” to take care of family) are all Emmy award winning television HITS and all are about characters that would be supreme, irredeemable villains if Ronald Reagan or Barbara Bush wrote the plots. Truman Capote’s career is defined by his book “In Cold Blood.”  a story told from the POV of two murderers in 1959.  Should I even mention our Oscar winning Joker from The Dark Knight Rises (and by many accounts to true star of the show). The Godfather , Goodfellahs and Pulp Fiction are all hailed as classics of American cinema, why? Because The Godfather is about a SUCCESSFUL family willing to do whatever it took to sustain this success.  Goodfellahs, much like Scarface is about a guy that didn’t want to just live the normal, bullsh!t life that most of us are born into so he created and pursued his American dream by going against the grain. While, Pulp Fiction basically humanized the hitmen (see: hired murderers) and made us not only root for them to not get caught, but c’mon, who couldn’t have felt sorry for the supreme gangster Ving Rhames’ character when he was beat down and plowed in the a$$ by that S&M Klansman..

…somebody had to be having Holiday Heart flashbacks…

…and if you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction and felt as if that was a spoiler, then shame on you and many curses to your face for it being 2011 and you’ve still never seen Pulp Fiction.

Being an 80s baby and a 90s kid, I watched gangster rap go from being America’s nasty embarrassment that had to be kept hidden from the youth to now the number #1 rapper in the country, who raps about everything from murder, drugs and gang violence to love, sex and blowing money is a popular face on the birthday cakes of rich white children.

Crazy right? Maybe it’s the fantasy, maybe’s it’s the freedom or maybe it’s just that visceral side of human nature that so many of us choose to and are programmed to ignore, but we are fascinated by “the bad guys.”  We love to root for the underdog, whether right or wrong, because most of us hate the fact that we have to play by broken rules to possibly attain the fantasies of freedom. And those rich few who do enjoy these fantasies many times have attained their wealth either through birth (LUCK), screw jobs or crime. A slim few out of millions/billions actually play by the set rules and make it from the absolute poverty stricken bottom to the anything at your fingertips top, so we latch onto these rebellious characters that do what we can’t. It isn’t much different from why children love Superman. He has all of these super powers and can do what they only dream of. So, by the jaded years of adulthood, it’s the gangsters that become many of our heroes.

Not saying that the Obamas aren’t inspiring or the MLKs aren’t uplifting. But they represent the epitome of submission to a generation that thrives off of domination. We worship  LOVE WINNERS and especially those that we see have grinded and WORKED for  (see: TAKE) the W. Obama’s playing their game and still losing to a degree and MLK’s dream, needed the assistance of the nightmare that was Malcolm’s “By Any Means Necessary” approach to become a true reality. Not downing the work of these men at all, just speaking my facts. You don’t need to take a psychology course to see that we’ll tear down the heroes in a heartbeat through envy, but worship the villains into infamy as long as there’s a charm or a saving grace about them, a riveting backstory or really as long as they win. I was named after King, I fux with King, but I can’t ignore the fact that it took peace AND violence to really attain some sort of equality.  Sometimes respect comes through fear. Sh!t’s crazy. What’s even crazier is the story of alleged drug kingpin of New Orleans, Telly Hankton.

He’s known as “one of the most dangerous men in New Orleans” according to the Mayor and the police chief of N.O.  I swear, reading up on this guy was just like watching one of those “classic” gangster films or one of Rick Ross’ uber-jocked radio hits, the story is just as cinematic.

“Labeled by police as one of the city’s most fearsome criminals, as a cold-blooded triggerman who fired away at Stewart as he lay prone and injured along South Claiborne Avenue. Prosecutors said Hankton’s cousin, had just smashed into [Darnell] Stewart with his car and sent him flying into the air before Telly Hankton strode up and fired 11 bullets from a 9 mm handgun. At least eight hit Stewart, including four into his face.”NOLA.COM

The way the story goes is Jessie Reed and Darnell Stewart were suspected for the murder of Telly Hankton’s cousin and business partner ‘Cup’ Hankton. As it happens with the system at times Reed and Stewart got off, so much like the revenge plot of a movie, The Hankton Cousins Telly and Andre (brother to the slain ‘Cup’) decided to take the law into their own cocaine filled fingertips. In a high speed chase Andre rammed Darnell Stewart with a car, then Telly got out of the car and shot Stewart up Hollywood style.

“[the mustang] hit [Stewart] and sent him very, very high in the air. It sent him over the telephone pole. His shoes came off. His pants almost came off and he went end over end over end,” the witness said.

Stewart landed from 25 feet in the air, prosecutors said. While airborne, he wrapped around a utility pole and dropped to the ground, losing his pants and getting his underwear stuck on a staple on the way down. He was still alive when he was shot 11 times, including four bullets to the head, prosecutor Seth Shute said.–NOLA.COM

The way that hit was describe it doesn’t even seem like Telly needed to shoot him afterwards, sh!t reminded me of a Dane Cook skit.

….but as Scarface taught us, the villain only shows mercy when kids are involved, no kids in this case. Then, after posting a $1 million dollar bond, yes ONE MILLION DOLLAR BOND, Telly and a friend went and hunted down Jessie Reed.

After Telly Hankton’s arrest, he posted a $1 million bond. Then, according to police, he and another man shot Jesse “TuTu” Reed — the other man accused of killing Cup Hankton — at Terpsichore and LaSalle streets. 59 shell casings were found.” —NOLA.COM

Reed was shot 50 times. FIFTY TIMES. Is that many shots necessary to kill someone? Really?

What brings the fantasy, the idolization and any shred of respect for these proceedings to a screeching halt is when the truth settles in that, wait, this is real life. Not reel life, REAL LIFE. On one end, I can understand the “code of the streets” in matters that deal with people who have agreed to play and live by this code.  I’m no supporter of murder, but men in their business play by a different set of rules, a set of rules where they’ve sacrificed the value of their own life and in turn life in general has little meaning or levity to them.  All that matters is green paper with white faces, so feeling too sorry for murderers killing murderers is a bit of a task for me, but it’s the innocents involved that cause my first slivers of heartbreak for this entire situation. No matter how much you love the villain, I can’t see how anybody can fu*k with this.

“Hasan Williams, an eyewitness to Jessie Reed’s murder who identified Telly Hankton, was killed two weeks later, by the same gun used to shoot Reed, according to police. At the time, Telly Hankton was behind bars.”—NOLA.COM

Hankton is so connected he was making hits behind bars and had to be moved to a prison in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, due to the fact that while in Orleans Parish Prison he had too many ways to get messages (and orders) back out to the streets. There are two eye witnesses that have come forward to testify against Hankton, one of which was smart enough to not be named, the other one…err…not so lucky.

“Thomas Hankton (Telly’s Cousin), of Kenner, has remained jailed since Feb. 3, with bond set at $300,000, accused of attempted murder in the shooting of JOHN MATTHEWS (WITNESS) at his home in eastern New Orleans.

According to police, MATTHEWS identified Thomas Hankton in a photo lineup as the man who fired 17 shots into him about 2:40 a.m. on Oct. 24, 2010. An ambulance took MATTHEWS to LSU Interim Public Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition before his recovery.

Last month, at Telly Hankton’s trial, MATTHEWS testified that he fingered Hankton in a photo lineup, but he was not as certain as another witness who picked him out in a few seconds.”NOLA.COM

You, the public, the news media, the chief of police and THE MAYOR are all calling Telly Hankton the most dangerous man in New Orleans. He runs over his enemies with sports cars then shoots them in the face in public. He can afford to post a $1 million dollar bail to shoot 50 bullets into his rivals in broad daylight AND has already had a previous witness killed from behind bars and you mean to tell me that letting my name and face out to the public was the right move? The F*CK!?

…yah, exactly

“[The prosecution] attempted Thursday to clear the courtroom as witness John Matthews testified, but Judge Dennis Waldron refused. “-NOLA.COM

I need to know why a judge would refuse a prosecutors plea to protect her key witness by clearing the court, I know many judges are d!cks, but c’mon…the guy was shot 17 freaking times all to help YOUR case, give him some kind of leeway. In a stroke of Pulp Fiction’s Julius style divine intervention, the witness survived the 17 shots and still testified in the case.

“Judge Waldron rejected prosecutor Margaret Parker’s request again Friday, and spectators watched as the state’s main witness dabbed his eyes with a tissue as he recounted watching a car chase unfold into a murder.

“I was watching him so hard, because I didn’t want to die,” said the man. “I didn’t want to leave my wife alone…I just wanted to make sure if something happened to me, someone would be able to do something. I tried so hard to look, because I was scared.”

He repeatedly paused and dabbed his eyes.

“How are you feeling right now?” Parker asked him.

“Please don’t ask me that,” he replied. “I didn’t even want to be there. I don’t want to be here.”—NOLA.COM

50 Cent took 9 shots and made a career, Matthews at 66 took 17 shots, so I think that dude need to be broke off some kind of compensation, a book deal, movie deal, an award or something just for sheer determination to live if for nothing else. Matthews > 50 Cent.

All jokes aside, I do feel sorry for Matthews, his life will never be the same after this.  They had to move him out of the state for witness protection (though, NOT releasing his name would’ve been a more encouraging move). Yeah, some would call it snitching, but Matthews doesn’t live the lifestyle that the Hanktons, Reed and Stewart were leading, so to me snitching doesn’t exist for him. He’s just standing up to a mob boss that in a way is poisoning his community.  Hell, he isn’t just standing up to a boss, he’s standing up to an entire family. Remember it was Telly, along with his cousin Andre, that handled Daniel Stewart and it was Thomas Hankton, Telly’s cousin, that shot John Matthews those 17 times.  It was also Thomas Hankton that paid off two women to lie and say that they were with Telly during the time of the hit and run and gun.

“Danielle Hampton and Sana Johnson were the only two witnesses to testify on behalf of Hankton, saying he was with Hampton, sipping cocktails at the W Hotel while Stewart was falling end-over-end and getting shot.

Hampton testified that she met Hankton for the first time at Audubon Park on the day of Stewart’s killing, and then went out for drinks with him that night.

But phones and address books seized from Hankton by the FBI two years ago, and since turned over to New Orleans detectives, show that Hampton and Hankton knew each other at least three years before then, according to court records.

Hampton has since admitted to an alleged perjury-for-money scam to help free Hankton, according to a police report. Johnson, meanwhile, maintains her innocence, her lawyer said.”—NOLA.COM

If this isn’t crazy enough, ANOTHER one of the Hankton cousin’s was caught trying to pose as a juror for the case!

“A member of Telly Hankton’s family attempted to pose as a juror to gain illegal access to the courthouse at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street, an Orleans Parish prosecutor told a judge Friday. Just who the family member was — or what she was hoping to accomplish — remained unclear Friday morning as Hankton’s retrial in the murder of Darnell Stewart continued.”—NOLA.COM

The Hankton’s are definitely a family that rides or dies for each other, so I couldn’t imagine being in John Matthews shoes. I was planning on posting on this Seattle, Washington real life super hero named Phoenix Jones who was just in the news for getting arrested while trying to break up a fight. This guy is a former MMA fighter, that actually rocks a full costume, with a mask and all, he leads a whole group of Kick-Ass style real life crime fighters (no powers of course) that patrol the Seattle neighborhoods in the name of justice.

Yes, they are totally serious.

But there’s a different level of heroism involved when you compare a trained martial artist dressing up with a mask and spraying pepper spray on teens in the suburbs, verses an old man standing up to a true GANGSTER that could have him killed and has already tried to have him killed, no mask, no training, no backup, no weapons just the man and his word…and the old man is doing this all just to do the right thing for his community.  F*ck a Phoenix Jones and all of his thousands of Facebook friends, I’ll shout out John Matthews as a real super hero any day for his efforts. Especially since Matthews, unlike Jones, finds himself in the same position now as iconic superheroes such as Spiderman and Batman. What motivated them to dawn their respective masks? Tragedy.

“While his brother [John Matthews] remained in seclusion out of state, Curtis Matthews, a 61-year-old retired mail carrier, came to the city to run, and try to sell, the Jazz Daiquiris Lounge [where the original Hankton murder took place] in the 3400 block of South Claiborne Ave.
When Hankton came to trial, John Matthews testified, and Hankton was sentenced to life in prison.

Then, on Saturday, someone shot Curtis Matthews dead.”—NOLA.COM

Rumor has it, Curtis Matthews was shot 17 times as well. SMH. Some say it’s the police force’s fault for not having protection over the family of a critical witness in such a huge local case, the police feel as that  they did all they could.

“I do not know of a single agency in the country tasked with ensuring the safety of witnesses that provides services and/or security to an out-of-state resident who is an extended family member of a witness, as was the case with Curtis Matthews,” the statement read.


The office, Cannizzaro said, is “taking all necessary precautions regarding witnesses in the cases against Telly Hankton, Edward Allen, Andre Hankton and Thomas Hankton.”–NOLA.COM

Yeah the cops basically said it ain’t their fault because it wasn’t their responsibility to protect the witnesses’ brother. It’s screwed up, but that’s how it goes, the government doesn’t care what you lose as long as they win. Kind of like the ‘bad guys’ we praise so dearly eh?

At the end of the day, this man just lost his brother and any semblance of a normal life all for trying to do what was right.  This entire situation leaves me a bit unnerved and unsure how to feel.  You want to teach your children to stand up for what they believe in and for what’s right no matter what, but then you read stories like these which bring a grim truth to the matter.  I guess this story can support the fact that no matter what real gangsters end up dead or in jail, but how does the good guy end up? If Matthews knew his brother would die as a result of his confession, would he have still done it?  A question that will never have an answer, but that will probably plague John Matthews until his dying days. Was it worth it?  If he would have said nothing, his life would have continued unchanged, now he must live in fear and seclusion, with the guilt his brother’s blood on his hands forever. When accosted by reporters to explain more about the murder of Curtis Matthews, the relative that was interviewed said what may be on the mind of many in the community watching what’s been going on.

said a relative, who asked not to be identified. “I don’t want to do anything that’s going to get anyone else hurt.”–NOLA.COM

Aside from the bad guy getting a life sentence, this is Sh!tty Sh!tty ending to the story.  But hey, the mayor’s excited though.

“We are committed to getting the city’s most violent criminals off the streets,” Landrieu said. “Telly Hankton terrorized people in the streets of New Orleans for too long.”

When told about the death of the witnesses’ brother

“a continuation of the kind of street violence and street retaliation that we have seen for a very, very long period of time.” —NOLA.COM

When one goes down another sprouts up, crime is a cancer that can only be dealt with from the root.  You want to really stop the Telly Hankton’s from taking over the city, how bout putting more money into the schools and the communities. Create some outreach programs, really make the fight against Poverty as important or more important than the millions of dollars being wasted on the “War on Drugs”. How about showing these kids some real heroes, ones that they can identify with besides civil rights leaders and puppet politicians. I wonder who Telly’s heroes were growing up? Most likely the same style gangsters that he would eventually become.  We are owned by our idols.   It’s a tired drum that gets beaten but no one seems to hear and a dead horse that gets molly whopped but no one wants to take the time out to bury. We don’t heal the root, then our harvest will continue to grow out of poison.

But nah, I think our government enjoys the cycle, because in the end in some way the money makes it back to them anyway right?  Hate to be cynical, but watching a country make the same mistakes for decades can eventually turn frustration into apathy, and apathy is by far the worse mood or emotion one can have.

John Matthews, whether you feel like it or not at the moment, you are definitely a hero beyond words and even if no one else is applauding you, I am. Many prayers and condolences go out to your family.

I guess the answer as to why we love to root for the bad guys in movies is because in real life, we’re not yet use to seeing our heroes win…at least not enough.

Praying for change, Planning for Action

-BATS-

  1. Yo, words can NOT describe how much I enjoyed this write up. Omg!!

  2. I wonder why judge Dennis Waldron did not want to protect this witness when it was obvious he dealing with a dangerous criminals? Is he part of the family too?

  3. the entire family is a bunch of criminals, from the mother to the grand kids….

    most people who grew up in New Orleans know of the Hankton clan from way back when the grand dad was a street thug down in Central City in the Melpomene Projects off of MLK….

    either way the Hankton family is well connected and Telly and Cup just took advantage of their connections…. there are tons of NOPD cops that are part of the Hankton family as well as Sheriff Deputies that works in the Orleans Parish Prison off of Tulane and Broad….

    also the city is going after the wrong people…. it isn’t Telly who runs this criminal enterprise, it’s the momma Shirley Hankton that runs the shit….. Shirley Hankton is one mean bitch but has no problem dropping $2500 at Boomtown while driving around town in new cars every month…..

    if the city of New Orleans was serious about getting rid of the Hankton family, it needs to bring down every member of the clan, from the momma to the cousins who are in law enforcement, otherwise another Hankton cousin will just take over, or worse yet, one of the sisters will take over…. the bitches in the Hankton family are ruthless mean bitches…..

  4. SYDNEY CHOPPER CITY

    DO you think MATHEWS would of said anything if he KNEW what that man had done to TELLYS brother??? Nah bruh you got it all fucked up

  5. It really doesn’t matter cause when your dealing in crime it’s just one vicious cycle there’s no telling what Telly’s brother did to that man. Regardless of what happened it just a sad situation that people are losing there lives over foolishness whether your the bad guy or not.

  6. Everybody commenting on this case bit nobody really knows what happened in that situation

  1. Pingback: B.G aka Mr. Dorsey and Telly Hankton —troubles with the law « Gumbo Monster

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