Self-inflicted gunshot wound killed man involved in Tuesday shootout with Livingston Parish deputy, LSP says _lowres

Sidney Averett

So many bullets tore through the house on Country Club Lane north of Denham Springs during the afternoon of Feb. 3 that State Police investigators never determined exactly how many were fired.

The estimate is 60, fired from four guns, including the service weapon of the off-duty Livingston Parish deputy who lived there.

Rounds smashed through walls, pierced doors and slammed into the refrigerator. Three struck intruder Sidney Averett — one lodging in his leg, another breaking a bone in his arm. But the fatal blow, which entered under his chin, was determined to be self-inflicted.

Friday, State Police released their shooting report concerning the gunfight between Averett and former Livingston Parish Deputy David Johnson. Investigator Hampton Guillory wrote that authorities concluded Johnson acted in justifiable self-defense and have ruled Averett’s death a suicide.

The report details a shootout that ripped through the physical structures in Johnson’s house. Averett took up a position in a hallway, firing into a locked bedroom where Johnson was holed up, returning fire while his girlfriend — Averett’s estranged wife — took cover in a bathtub.

According to 911 tapes, the two eventually slipped out a window. As law enforcement arrived on the scene, several reported hearing a final gunshot from inside the house where they would discover Averett’s body.

In November, months before the shootout, Averett called a deputy to his house in Walker. According to various court and law enforcement documents, he had lived at the home with his estranged wife, Stephanie Averett. The two were in the process of divorcing, and Stephanie Averett was dating and living with Johnson.

That day in November, she was to collect items at the home in Walker for their two children. Sidney Averett called law enforcement, upset because he suspected she brought Johnson to the home.

Before the deputy left, Sidney Averett handed him a bullet.

“Give that to David Johnson,” he is quoted as saying in Guillory’s report.

In the months leading up to the shooting, the Averetts filed numerous complaints against each other, and each sought protective orders against the other.

The morning of the gunfight, the Averetts appeared in court in regard to one of those temporary restraining orders and to discuss child support, the report states, adding that they were scheduled for a March trial.

After the court appearance, Sidney Averett called his girlfriend, Misty Gill, who told investigators he “seemed upset regarding his ability to pay his bills and pay the amount of child support being ordered by the court,” the report states.

After the hearing, Sidney Averett ran into Stephanie Averett, her father and Johnson at a restaurant in Livingston.

A witness who later identified Sidney Averett overheard him say “If you weren’t a cop, I’d beat your ass,” Guillory wrote.

After they finished eating, Stephanie Averett and Johnson returned to their home at 30817 Country Club Lane. Johnson, who had been in uniform, took off his ballistics vest and utility belt.

Gill told investigators Sidney Averett called her after the encounter at the restaurant and that both said they were headed home, but while she was on her way, she saw her boyfriend speeding in the opposite direction.

Troopers interviewed Sidney Averett’s parents, who were letting him live in a trailer on their property. They told investigators their son kept “numerous firearms” in a gun safe to which only he knew the combination.

Sidney Averett’s father showed the safe to investigators, saying it looked like several items nearby had recently been moved to gain access, the report states.

Around 12:30 p.m., Sidney Averett arrived at the house. In the report, investigators pieced together what they believe happened next.

After beating on the door and ordering Stephanie Averett outside, Sidney Averett apparently left the property briefly, but Johnson and a postal worker in the neighborhood saw him turn around. When he returned to the house, the postal worker saw him park behind a marked sheriff’s vehicle and approach the home, looking “angry.”

A boot mark on a door that matched his footwear and a broken frame indicate he kicked his way in through the house’s carport.

Guillory described walking through the house when he first arrived, noting a trail of bullet holes in the walls through the house.

Stephanie Averett told investigators she ran into the master bathroom when she heard shots ring out. She peered out once and saw Johnson crouching behind a dresser in the bedroom but retreated when more gunfire broke out.

Johnson described seeing shots coming through the door and closet and returning fire.

At some point, he hit Sidney Averett, once in the arm and once in the leg. Guillory followed a trail of blood from the home back to Sidney Averett’s vehicle, where he either reloaded or got another gun and returned inside.

Stephanie Averett heard him yell he was “bleeding out” and said Johnson told him they would get him help if he would stop shooting. But the gunfire resumed.

Eventually, deputies arriving on the scene directed Johnson and Stephanie Averett out through a window. By the time some of those deputies made it inside the house, Sidney Averett had shot himself and was pronounced dead at the scene. A semi-automatic handgun and a revolver were found near his body. Another bloody handgun was found in his car, the report states.

Investigators believe he fired about 20 rounds. Johnson shot 40 from his service pistol.

“…(T)he shots fired by Johnson were justified, as lethal force was necessary to protect his own life as well as the life of Stephanie Averett, and not the result of any criminal wrongdoing. … It was further determined that Sidney Averett’s death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and is being ruled a suicide,” State Police wrote in the conclusion of their report.

Attempts to contact Johnson, Gill and members of Sidney Averett’s family Friday were unsuccessful.

When reached for comment, Sheriff Jason Ard said through spokeswoman Lori Steele that “the facts in the report speak for themselves.”

She added that Johnson resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on March 11, citing unspecified personal reasons.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.