A grand jury on Thursday decided not to charge a Baton Rouge police officer who shot and killed a 32-year-old man in July 2013.
An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury considered charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide against Officer Joshua Gillich, 29. But after hours of presentations and witness testimony, the grand jury elected not to indict the officer in the death of Tyris Wilkerson, who gained notoriety in the mid-1990s after a jury convicted him as an adult of fatally shooting a man when he was only 14 years old.
“The officer had four seconds to make a life-or-death decision,” said Hillar Moore III, East Baton Rouge Parish’s district attorney. “I think he acted properly, and the grand jury agreed.”
The shooting happened just after midnight on Gillich’s 28th birthday, July 28, 2013, near Baton Rouge Magnet High School. Officers tried to stop Wilkerson on a traffic violation, police have said, but Wilkerson did not heed their orders.
On South Eugene Street near Louisiana Avenue, Wilkerson sped in an SUV toward at least two officers, prompting them to open fire, police have said.
Moore, the district attorney, said about six shots were fired at Wilkerson. The first bullets entered the front windshield, and additional bullets entered the vehicle through the passenger-side window as Wilkerson continued to drive by the officers, Moore said.
After the shooting, Gillich and another officer were placed on paid administrative leave. The Police Department, in its own investigation of the officer-involved shooting, cleared Gillich of any wrongdoing.
Gillich, who was present for the grand jury’s decision, declined to comment on the matter.
“We presented a thorough presentation,” Moore said. “Everybody involved was cooperative.”
In 1996, Wilkerson became the first juvenile in East Baton Rouge Parish to be convicted of murder as an adult following the passage of a notable law two years earlier. The law allowed people who were 14 at the time of a crime’s commission to be tried in district court as opposed to juvenile court. Wilkerson was 14 at the time of the shooting and 15 at the time of his conviction.
Wilkerson served 16 years in prison — the maximum allowed by law — and was released on his 31st birthday, in August 2011.
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