The Louisiana State Police released new details Monday of a fatal officer-involved shooting last week that has sparked controversy in Evangeline Parish, saying the deputy who opened fire on an ATV driver had been attacked during a 4 a.m. traffic stop.
The Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office deputy, who has not been identified, "was dazed and saw stars" before fatally shooting the ATV driver, 27-year-old Dejuan Guillory, according to a State Police report.
A defense attorney representing Guillory's girlfriend, Dequince Brown, disputed the State Police account of the shooting, saying his client had bitten the deputy in an attempt to prevent him from "murdering" her boyfriend. Brown, 21, was booked with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and is being held without bond.
"We believe it's a smokescreen to cover up a bad shooting," said the attorney, Joe Long, of Baton Rouge, referring to the attempted murder count.
The shooting generated outrage on social media and prompted new scrutiny of a Sheriff's Office that was recently the subject of a scathing U.S. Justice Department report that found that deputies for decades violated the rights of Evangeline Parish residents by placing them under "investigative holds" in which they were jailed for days without charges. The Sheriff's Office has faced repeated scandals and turnover under the current administration, including a financial disaster that prompted Sheriff Eddie Soileau last year to seek an opinion from state Attorney General Jeff Landry on whether he could "legally operate without having law enforcement duties."
Soileau did not return messages seeking comment Monday. He requested State Police handle the investigation of Guillory's death.
The shooting happened on July 6 on a rural road about four miles south of Mamou. The deputy responded about 4:10 a.m. to a report of a stolen ATV and had "cleared that call" before he encountered Guillory and Brown riding a 4-wheeler on Retton School Road at Chad Lane, State Police said in a news release. An affidavit of probable cause signed by Senior Trooper Paul DuBois differs slightly from the State Police news release, saying the traffic stop happened on nearby Reed Cemetery Road.
The deputy asked Guillory and Brown for their identification, State Police said, but neither of them had one. At some point, the traffic stop turned violent.
"During their verbal communication, Guillory struck (the deputy) in the head," DuBois wrote in the affidavit, which State Police redacted to protect the deputy's name. The deputy was "dazed and saw stars" after he was struck, the document says. The State Police statement goes further, saying that the deputy was knocked to the ground and possibly lost consciousness.
Both documents say the deputy then drew his firearm and ordered Guillory to get on the ground, which he did.
According to State Police, the deputy tried to handcuff Guillory while he was on the ground when a struggle ensued. At that point, Brown approached the deputy from behind and "began to choke and bite him," State Police said in the news release.
"Brown jumped on his back and placed her arm around his neck, punching him, pulling his hair and attempting to grab his gun," DuBois wrote in the affidavit of probable cause. "During the struggle, Brown stated, 'We are going to kill him.'"
According to State Police, the deputy then shot Guillory and ordered Brown off his back before returning to his vehicle and calling for backup.
Long, the defense attorney, said the deputy had been "really, really angry" that Guillory and Brown didn't have their IDs. The deputy "was up in Guillory's face like someone who wanted to provoke a fight," he said, adding Guillory "pushed him back to get him out of his personal space."
"The officer shoved Guillory and the two men began fist fighting," Long said, describing Brown's version of the encounter.
Long said it was Brown who called for help on a radio that had fallen from the deputy's uniform. He said Guillory had been pleading for his life when the deputy opened fire. "The officer just kept saying 'Quit resisting,'" Long said, adding the deputy also had threatened to shoot his client at one point.
State Police said a "significantly damaged" handcuff was found on Guillory's right arm cut off following his autopsy.
Authorities have not said how many times or where on his body Guillory was shot. "That info is pending and I cannot comment at this time," Dr. Thomas Fontenot, the Evangeline Parish coroner, wrote in an email.
Maj. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman, said several aspects of the investigation remain pending, including ballistics and DNA testing, as well as additional interviews. "It should be noted that the patrol vehicle was equipped with an in-car camera system which State Police has in its possession and will be conducting analysis of the device," he said. "We ask the community for patience as this investigation continues."
Family members said they were still in shock at Guillory's death on Monday.
"He did have a hot head and would get in trouble," said Dwayne Rideaux, a cousin of Guillory. "But he was a good person and wanted to be with family. He was a friend to everybody."