The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office has released the identifies of the six deputies present when officers fatally shot a 48-year-old man Tuesday night on Terrace Street in Old South Baton Rouge.
Multiple deputies opened fire at Travis Stevenson, of Louise Street, about 10 p.m. Tuesday after he rammed his car several times into a Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said Tuesday night.
It remained unclear Friday how many of the deputies fired their weapons, though District Attorney Hillar Moore III said earlier that “multiple” deputies fired.
The Sheriff’s Office generally waits 48 hours before releasing the identities of officers involved in a shooting, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. All six in Tuesday’s shooting have been interviewed by State Police detectives, who are handling the investigation.
The six deputies and their years of service are:
Lt. Michael Birdwell, Gardere Substation, 18 years
Sgt. Verner Budd III, Gardere Substation, 13 years
Sgt. Scott Henning Jr., Violent Crimes Unit, five years
Cpl. Chris Masters, Violent Crimes Unit, five years
Sgt. Charles Montgomery, General Investigations Division, 22 years
Deputy Shannon Broussard, General Investigations Division, 12 years.
The deputies began searching for Stevenson after the Sheriff’s Office received a call about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday from Stevenson’s girlfriend, who said he entered her Gardere-area home and sprayed her and her child with pepper spray, Gautreaux said.
Stevenson had left by the time deputies arrived. When officers managed to reach him by cellphone, he threatened to jump off the Mississippi River bridge, Hicks said Wednesday, but deputies did not find Stevenson on either the Interstate 10 bridge or the U.S. 190 bridge.
Deputies then received a report Stevenson was in the area around Terrace Avenue and Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, Gautreaux said. They found him on Terrace Avenue, parked in the gravel parking lot of a small apartment building.
A deputy used his vehicle to block Stevenson into the parking spot, Gautreaux said, but Stevenson rammed his white sedan backward into the deputy’s car and forward into a metal pole next to the building.
Deputies smashed in a car window and attempted to pull Stevenson from his vehicle, Gautreaux said, before opening fire.
No video footage captured the shooting, Moore said Thursday. East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras, and it remained unclear Friday whether any of the Sheriff’s Office vehicles involved in the incident were equipped with dashboard cameras.
Although the Sheriff’s Office generally handles the investigation of deputy shootings internally, Gautreaux announced Tuesday night he was turning the investigation over to State Police.
Gautreaux said the move was prompted by the fact that two homicide detectives, whose division typically handles such investigations, were themselves involved in Tuesday’s incident.
Hicks said the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have a formal policy on whether or when to release the identities of deputies involved in shootings.
“Every case is different, and we look at all the factors before releasing the names,” Hicks said.
The Baton Rouge Police Department follows a similar general practice, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a department spokesman.
McKneely said the department typically identifies officers 48 hours after a shooting but occasionally declines to release officers’ names if the department believes doing so may put an officer at risk or compromise an ongoing investigation.
“We look at each case individually,” McKneely said.
State Police, who are frequently called on to investigate officer-involved shootings at smaller law enforcement agencies, always leave the decision on whether to identify an officer up to local officials, said Maj. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman.