Bryant P. Johnson

November 7, 1973 – October 27, 2000

Bryant P. Johnson

Bryant P. Johnson

Bryant Patrick Johnson died on October 27, 2000, in Orleans Parish Prison. He was twenty-seven years old at the time of his death. Since Bryant died before the internet was widely used, he had no presence on social media, and a basic google search revealed sparse information about Bryant. However, the Times Picayune generally discussed Bryant’s death in an article published online in 2000. The article indicated that Bryant had a sister, Adrienne, but it did not list her last name. Local librarians pulled a 1988 Ben Franklin yearbook from the library shelves that identified a person the same age as Bryant named ‘Bryan Johnson’ as a student at the school. However, upon further investigation, this was not the same individual.

The archives division of the New Orleans Public Library assisted to locate more information about Bryant. A copy of Bryant’s obituary was available on Microfilm. The Orleans Parish Directories for the years 1998 and 1999 yielded Bryant’s address at the time of his death, which was 3316 Garden Oaks Drive in Algiers. The obituary listed the names of Bryant’s family members.

During the Fall of 2021, using the information in Bryant’s obituary, I reached out to his sister, Adrienne, and the mother of Bryant’s two eldest sons, Theresa Dunns, on Facebook. I spoke with Adrienne on the phone about Bryant’s life, and she sent me a picture of him through Facebook Messenger. She also referred me to their brother, Jessie Johnson, whom I also spoke to on the phone.

During the Fall of 2023, after this dossier was first published online, I spoke with Bryant’s daughter, Elicia Larrieu, Elicia’s mother, Edwina Larrieu, and Bryant’s oldest son, Bryant Johnson, Jr.

Adrienne, Jessie, Elicia, Edwina, and Bryant Jr. shared the following with me about Bryant’s life:

Bryant was born on November 7, 1973. For one year during his childhood, Bryant and his family members lived in Los Angeles, California before returning to New Orleans, Louisiana. Bryant was raised in Algiers along with his sisters, Adrienne Ingram and Jovanna Thompson, and brothers, Darryle and Jessie Johnson. Jessie remembers that Bryant attended O. Perry Walker High School in Algiers. He was the youngest of his siblings, and Adrienne noted that he was “the baby of the family.” She and Jessie both remarked that Bryant and their mother were incredibly close.

When Bryant was young, he was an active member of a Baptist church in Gretna, of which Adrienne is still a member. Bryant and his siblings sang in the choir, and he was baptized as young as seven or eight years old. His obituary referenced both Regular, Mt. Pilgrim and Evening Star Baptist churches. Jessie noted that Bryant was very helpful around the house when they were young. While Darryle and Jessie worked to support the family, Bryant was eager to clean or assist with household chores, and to help in whatever way he could. Adrienne said that Bryant always did what she told him to do when they were kids. His siblings described him as an incredibly loving, family-oriented person who never got into trouble.

When Bryant was around nineteen years old, his mother pressed him to pursue a profession. Bryant really enjoyed cooking and wanted to learn more about it. To further his interest, Bryant completed a two-year culinary arts program through Job Corps. He particularly enjoyed cooking gumbo and other seafood dishes for his family. After completing the program, he worked at the Drury Inn, and possibly at Art Catering, where he applied his knowledge of and love for cooking. Bryant also worked as a chef on a cruise ship called Acadian. Shortly before Bryant passed away, he began working offshore. Bryant’s life was moving in a very positive direction before his death. Jessie said that Bryant was doing well with his new job, that he had a home, and a very happy family life.

Bryant had many talents. For example, he loved to skate when he was young. Adrienne mentioned that, even if she wanted to go somewhere else, the family would take him to Skate Park so that he could practice during their childhoods. In addition to skating, he was fond of movies and had expansive knowledge of them. When one would come on TV, he could usually name every actor in the film. Action films were his favorite, and he often watched movies with his mother. Bryant was also a gifted rapper. He was just getting started with rapping before he died and would often freestyle at family gatherings. Adrienne described his ability to look at someone and start freestyling with or about them on the spot.

Bryant’s family members emphasized that Bryant was a very dedicated family person and spent most of his time with his children. Bryant and Theresa Dunns had two children together, Bryant Jr., his first son, and Brandon, his second son. Bryant Jr. said that when his father was home, he was always with his children, and there was nothing they could not ask Bryant to do. Bryant Jr. was only six years old when his father passed away. Bryant said his father was a wonderful person.

While Bryant’s two sons were alive at the time of Bryant’s death, Edwina Larrieu was pregnant with their daughter, Elicia Larrieu. Elicia was born in January of 2001, three months after Bryant died. Elicia never had the opportunity to meet her father. Edwina said that Bryant was very excited for Elicia’s birth, and that he would often say “I’m going to have a daughter.” Edwina tried to get in contact with Bryant for months after he was taken to OPP, but because Bryant’s death occurred before the advent of social media and iPhones, Edwina did not learn of Bryant’s passing until after Elicia was born.  Edwina knew Bryant was thinking about his children on the day that he died.

During our phone conversations, Bryant’s family members discussed the circumstances surrounding his death. Officials ruled Bryant’s death a suicide, but family members disagree. Adrienne remembers that Bryant was arrested for having an open container, which in the few years following his death was no longer a crime in Orleans Parish. Officers took Bryant to Orleans Parish Prison.

The family’s grief was compounded by their search for answers and justice for Bryant. Jessie described the frustration and pain associated with this experience. When they were informed Bryant was dead, they went to OPP, and then were told by OPP officials that Bryant wasn’t in the jail, but instead at a hospital. When the family questioned Bryant’s whereabouts, OPP officials told them that Bryant was dead, but was in the hospital because only doctors at the hospital could pronounce his death. When Bryant’s family went to the hospital, officials would not allow family members to see his body. Jessie described how agonizing it was not to know if it was even his brother that was there. It was not until two weeks later that Bryant’s family was permitted to see his body.

Further, the family waited outside the courthouse to speak with people who were released from OPP the following Sunday. They told Bryant’s family that Bryant was given a red arm band when he entered the jail, which was a high-risk designation for having been accused of a violent crime. Witnesses also told Bryant’s family that Bryant verbally disputed the high-risk designation with officers, which resulted in three deputies jumping on him in a cell. Bryant’s family has not been able to successfully locate any of the individuals they spoke to since that time.

These events warranted the family’s distrust towards OPP officials. Bryant’s family hired attorneys and a pathologist from out of state. The pathologist reached a different conclusion regarding Bryant’s cause of death than the coroner in Louisiana. Bryant had a gash in the back of his head, which supported the theory that he had been thrown into a wall and is consistent with the remarks of witnesses the family spoke with. Bryant also had scratches on the tops of his hands. Adrienne noted that the pathologist pointed to a joint in Bryant’s neck that had been severed, which does not harden until the age of forty.

The out-of-state pathologist’s findings, and the version of events that others in the prison described, compelled the family’s conclusion that Bryant had been beaten by deputies for disputing the arm-band designation, and picked up by his throat, resulting in his death. Despite the report from the out-of-state pathologist, Bryant’s death was judicially determined to have been a suicide.

This was a period of extreme emotional anguish for Bryant’s family. Bryant supported Theresa and their children before his death. Theresa was emotionally and financially devastated when he passed. Edwina was horrified not knowing what happened to Bryant, and subsequently learning that he had died after the birth of their child.  Bryant’s sons lived with Bryant’s mother for a period. However, prior to Bryant’s death, his mother became disabled from a car accident, and his father was battling cancer. Adrienne assisted with caring for Bryant’s sons as well. She mentioned that his death had a severe emotional impact on his children.

Bryant Jr. said that growing up, he was told that his father went to jail and passed away. Throughout his life, he has learned more about his father and the circumstances surrounding his death. Bryant Jr. has met his sister, Elicia, and they have a relationship with one another. Bryant’s youngest son, Brandon, passed away around Christmas time in 2020 and struggled throughout his life with the loss of his father.

Bryant’s mother suffered immensely from the loss of her son. Both her injuries from a car accident, and the loss of her youngest child created unbearable grief. Adrienne said her heart was absolutely broken. She cried and grieved Bryant’s death often. His mother’s grief did not subside before her death in 2010. What Bryant’s family members want most is justice for him.

Author: Jovian Scafati


  • Interviews with family members, Fall 2021.
  • Interviews with family members, Fall 2023.