The girlfriend of a man slain last year by an Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy pleaded not guilty Thursday to three charges related to her alleged intervention in a struggle between the dead man and the deputy.

The charges DeQuince Brown, 21, now faces were reduced from attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, which is what District Attorney Trent Brignac’s office initially sought.

In an amended bill of information, Brown is charged with battery of a police officer, aggravated assault against a peace officer and attempted disarming of a peace officer. The combined maximum sentence for those charges is 17 and one half years. Brown had faced up to 50 years without parole under the attempted murder charge.

Trial is scheduled for May 14.

“It’s a slight relief compared to attempted murder,” Brown’s mother, Suzette Brown, said after Thursday hearing.

Brown defended her daughter's actions at the scene, saying she believes that her daughter was merely trying to  prevent deputy Holden Lafleur from unjustifiably killing 27-year-old DeJuan Guillory during a July 6 traffic stop. Therefore, she said, her daughter isn't guilty of committing any crimes. 

“I think she did all the right things that night,” Suzette Brown said. “We just want to see her vindicated.”

DeQuince Brown has acknowledged jumping on Lafleur’s back and biting him, but the Guillory family claims in a federal lawsuit that she did so after Lafleur shot Guillory for the first time. The lawsuit alleges that Lafleur fired that shot while pinning Guillory to the ground with a knee to the back, and as Guillory begged for his life.

An autopsy report shows Lafleur shot Guillory three times in the back, and the one that caused the most damage was fired from furthest away. Based on the autopsy findings, the lawsuit claims that Guillory was shot while he crawled away.

Brignac, the district attorney, said in an interview last month that Lafleur did not fire until after Brown had jumped on his back.

The incident began around 4 a.m. as Guillory drove a four-wheeler along Reed Cemetery Road, with Brown in back. Brown has stated in an online fundraiser for her legal defense that the two were out frog hunting, and were unarmed. Brignac said Lafleur pulled them over because it’s illegal to operate a four-wheeler on a public road.

All parties agree that Lafleur ordered Guillory to follow him to his police car when seeing Guillory had no identification, and that a physical fight erupted as they walked toward the police car. Who started the fight is in dispute. The lawsuit claims Lafleur needlessly screamed in Guillory’s face for not having identification, and that Guillory pushed him back; Brignac said Guillory started the fight without provocation.

The sequence of events between the end of the fight and Lafleur’s attempt to handcuff Guillory are not disputed. Lafleur was bloodied after the fight, as evidenced by photos in the immediate aftermath that Brignac’s office released, and Guillory made his way back to the four-wheeler. Lafleur ordered Guillory at gunpoint to get on to the ground, and Guillory complied.

The lawsuit claims Guillory flinched in pain as Lafleur applied a handcuff to his left wrist, but Brignac said Guillory was resisting arrest. According to the lawsuit, Brown told Guillory to “be still baby,” and Lafleur then pointed his gun at her and said “Shut the f—k up, or I’ll shoot you.” Guillory, the lawsuit claims, begged for his life, and Lafleur fired the first shot, prompting Brown to intervene.

Brignac, on the other hand, said Brown jumped on the deputy as Guillory  was resisting arrest, before any shots were fired. Lafleur heard the words “kill him,” Brignac said, and felt someone reaching for his gun. This combination of circumstances caused Lafleur to fear for his life and use deadly force, Brignac said.

Aside from the autopsy report, the lawsuit filed in federal court relies largely on  statements given to the Guillory family’s lawyer, Joe Long, the day after the shooting. Long at the time was representing Brown, who has since hired defense attorney Pride Doran. Now an attorney for the Guillory family, Long filed the lawsuit in federal court in Lafayette.

The State Police is withholding release of the results of its investigation into the shooting, pending the criminal charges against Brown.

Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.