Denham Springs police have named the officer involved in a fatal shooting Monday afternoon.
The officer, Michael Brien LeBlanc, has been placed on administrative leave while the incident remains under investigation, city Detective Glenn Lemoine said Friday evening.
Police were called to a grassy area near the Bass Pro Shops on Monday afternoon after a woman reported that her son, truck driver Robert Kohl, of Fort Worth, Texas, was threatening to kill himself.
Kohl brandished a gun and pointed it toward responding officers, one of whom fired at him with a shotgun, authorities said Monday. Kohl was taken to a hospital but later died.
LeBlanc, 30, has been with the department about four years and had never been involved in a shooting before Monday, Lemoine said.
Police identified him more than four days after the shooting occurred. By contrast, Baton Rouge police named the officers involved in a nonfatal shooting Thursday about 8:10 p.m. by 11:02 a.m. the following morning.
Friday, Lemoine discussed several aspects of the Denham Springs case, including the use of a shotgun.
While a bullet could have gone through the window of one of the stores or restaurants in the area and seriously hurt someone, buckshot scatters and would have done less damage if it hit a passerby.
“At a greater distance, (a shotgun) would be less likely to kill (a bystander,)” Lemoine said.
“I would have done the same thing if I were him,” he said of LeBlanc.
When asked about the deployment of less-lethal force, the detective said, “If somebody’s gonna pull a gun on a police officer … I’m not going to use pepper spray. … That force is going to be matched with equal force.”
People can have different responses to Tasers and pepper spray, and officers need to make sure they stop the threat, he continued.
“Everybody wants to go home at the end of the day. … I have a right to defend myself.”
Similarly, officers are trained to shoot at the center of a suspect’s body — police have said Kohl was hit in the torso.
They don’t have time to line up a shot to a less-lethal target like a leg or arm, which may not put an end to the threat, Lemoine said.
“You’re not shooting to kill them. You’re shooting to stop them,” he said.
The city police are conducting an internal investigation to see if departmental procedure was followed during the incident.
The parish Sheriff’s Office has been called in to perform the criminal investigation and determine whether the shooting was justifiable.
Lemoine said both investigations could last several more weeks.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.