A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of DeJuan Guillory’s family claims an Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy fatally shot Guillory, 27, on July 6 as Guillory tried to crawl away, posing no threat to the deputy. It was the final of three shots deputy Holden Lafleur fired into Guillory’s back, according to the lawsuit, with the first coming while Guillory pleaded for his life.
An Evangeline Parish grand jury on Dec. 13 declined to indict Lafleur in the shooting, which followed a fight between Guillory and Lafleur during a 4 a.m. traffic stop on Reed Cemetery Road, where Guillory and his girlfriend, Dequince Brown, had been riding an all-terrain vehicle. Brown, who jumped on Lafleur around the time the gun went off, is now charged with attempted murder of a police officer.
A grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict an Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a man during a traffic stop near Mamou on …
The lawsuit, which accuses Lafleur of killing Guillory without justification, relies on a forensic pathologist’s report completed for the Coroner's Office, as well as Brown’s statements in the days after the shooting. Attorney Joe Long, who filed the suit, said he took Brown’s statement on July 7, while he represented her. Long now represents the Guillory family, and no longer represents Brown.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Lafayette, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
District Attorney Trent Brignac, speaking in an interview Friday, said there are critical differences in the emerging versions of events.
Not in dispute is that Guillory and Lafleur fought near Lafleur’s police car, after Lafleur had ordered Guillory off the four-wheeler. Guillory returned to the four-wheeler and tried to start it with Brown still aboard, but Guillory complied when Lafleur drew his gun and ordered Guillory to the ground.
The origins of the fight are not agreed upon: The district attorney said Guillory attacked Lafleur unprovoked; the lawsuit claims Lafleur started the altercation by yelling at Guillory for lacking identification, and then “needlessly escalating” the situation by screaming in Guillory’s face.
“Guillory pushed (Lafleur) back to get him out of his private space,” the lawsuit claims. “(Lafleur) then confronted Guillory and pushed him in the chest, with the intent to provoke a fight, and the two began to fight, hand to hand.”
There is also sharp disagreement over the timing of Lafleur’s first shot in relation to Brown’s intervention. The district attorney said the girlfriend jumped on the deputy as Guillory resisted arrest while on the ground. The combination of Brown’s actions and hearing the words “kill him” made Lafleur fear for his safety, Brignac said.
The lawsuit alleges Guillory flinched in pain because Lafleur had him pinned with his knee while applying handcuffs, and that Brown told her boyfriend to “be still baby.” At that point, according to the lawsuit, Lafleur pointed the gun at Brown and said “Shut the f*** up, or I’ll shoot you.” This caused Guillory to plead for his own life, and Lafleur responded by shooting him, the lawsuit alleges.
That’s when Brown jumped on Lafleur’s back, believing the deputy was trying to kill her boyfriend, the lawsuit claims. Lafleur then grabbed Brown’s hair with his left hand while firing in rapid succession toward Guillory, who was moving away from the deputy, the lawsuit alleges.
The contention in the lawsuit that Guillory was crawling away is based on the forensic pathologist’s findings that the gravest of the three gunshots did not leave any soot or gunpowder near the wounds, while the other two did. The shots that left residue caused tissue, muscle and blood vessel injuries. The fatal shot from farther range entered into Guillory’s mid back and exited near his left nipple, damaging his lungs and causing part of his chest cavity to fill with blood, according to the pathologist’s findings, which are submitted with the lawsuit.
Another disagreement exists over who called for help once the shooting was over and Brown released her grip on Lafleur. The district attorney said Lafleur did so from his car. The lawsuit alleges Brown called from Lafleur’s radio, which had fallen to the ground during the altercation. The lawsuit also claims Lafleur made no effort to render first aid to Guillory, “who was still alive but in apparent distress.”
Brignac has acknowledged that Lafleur made no attempt to restrain Brown after retreating to his car, a fact that Long, the plaintiff's attorney, has said is evidence she never posed a threat to Lafleur’s life.
The lawsuit, which names Sheriff Eddie Soileau as a defendant, contends Lafleur should never have been hired because he was prone to “fits of anger, mental instability and racial animus against African-Americans.”
Soileau and Lafleur have not returned multiple calls, including on Tuesday after the lawsuit was filed. Attempts to reach Soileau have been through the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office; attempts to reach Lafleur have been through a publicly listed number.