Conflicting accounts emerged Wednesday of a police chase that ended fatally Monday night in Central City, with Jefferson Parish authorities defending the shooting of a young man as justified but with the man’s girlfriend accusing deputies of fabricating key details.

Col. John Fortunato, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the two deputies who opened fire on 22-year-old Eric Harris acted in self-defense after Harris shifted his vehicle into reverse and began backing up in their direction. He said Harris ignored deputies’ orders to surrender even after he crashed his Infiniti about 8:15 p.m. Monday near Simon Bolivar Avenue and Philip Street.

“We believe that the shooting was the direct result of the officers feeling that their lives were in danger,” Fortunato said. “Obviously, he tried to back the vehicle up into the (deputy) behind the car while being ordered out of the car.”

Harris’ girlfriend, Tyshara Blouin, disputed that version of events in an interview Wednesday. Blouin, a passenger in the car who was injured by shattered glass, said Harris, the father of her child, had been “dazed up” after the crash and too disoriented to put the car in reverse. She added that Harris uttered his last words in asking whether she had been hurt in the crash.

“I never saw him try to back up,” said Blouin, 23. “As soon as he asked me if I was all right, they started shooting at the car. I just felt like they was mad that they chased us.”

Jefferson Sheriff Newell Normand said the police pursuit began shortly before 8 p.m. when three women alerted a deputy on a paid security detail at Oakwood Mall that Harris had pointed a gun at them. After he broke free from a deputy and drove away, the sheriff said, authorities eventually spotted Harris’ vehicle on the West Bank Expressway, where it “rammed” into a JPSO vehicle and set off a chase across the Crescent City Connection.

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In the interview, Blouin dismissed the Oakwood Mall run-in as “a small altercation with one of Eric’s old girlfriends from a long time ago,” adding “she made up a lie about him having a gun and went and told the security guard.” She said her boyfriend ran from deputies because “he was trying to get to his momma’s house,” which is less than a mile from where he died.

“I don’t think he wanted to go to jail,” said Blouin, who was not booked in connection with the chase.

The deputies who opened fire — Henry Dejean, a rookie hired in May, and Kenneth Bonura, a nearly two-year veteran — will not be reassigned pending the investigation, Fortunato said, in keeping with JPSO policy.

“We don’t reassign our officers who are involved in officer-involved shootings unless we suspect improprieties or policy violations,” Fortunato said. “At this stage in the investigation, we do not believe that’s the case.”

Blouin said the crash happened so suddenly that she could not be certain whether Harris crashed into a large pole on Philip Street because he lost control or whether he had been shot by one of the pursuing deputies.

The deputies got out of their vehicles after the crash and began firing after “the back-up lights came on,” Fortunato said. “As (Harris) starts to move backward, that’s when they began firing into the car, striking the driver.”

Neighbors living around the 2200 block of Philip Street said they heard a hail of gunfire. “They shot 10 times and then 10 more times,” said one man, who didn’t give his name. “It was like they didn’t stop.”

Blouin said she began “catching small heart attacks” after the shooting and had to crawl over her dead boyfriend to escape from the vehicle. “I thought I got shot,” she said, recalling deputies shouting for her to “get out of the (expletive) car.” She said paramedics tried without success to revive her boyfriend. “I was so nervous,” she said.

Investigators said they found a Glock handgun inside Harris’ vehicle. He is not accused of pointing the weapon at the pursuing deputies.

Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, the Orleans Parish coroner, said Harris suffered gunshot wounds to the base of his neck, left shoulder and part of his skull. “Additional projectile wounds were observed to the left lower jaw and the right thumb,” Rouse said.

The New Orleans Police Department said its Force Investigation Team is leading the investigation of the shooting. Fortunato said JPSO homicide investigators also are probing the incident.

While the NOPD requires its officers to use body-worn cameras, the JPSO does not. Normand said last year that he feared body cameras would lead to “Monday morning quarterbacking.”

Jefferson deputies also do not use dashboard cameras to record police pursuits — a practice that sets it apart from many other large law enforcement agencies. An estimated 68 percent of local police departments used in-car video cameras in 2013, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Fatal shootings involving moving vehicles have spurred controversies in cities across the country. After Denver police shot and killed a 17-year-old girl who they said drove toward them in a car with four teenage passengers last year, the city’s independent police monitor opened a review of the practice.

“The best practices around the country really focus on getting officers out of the way so they can save their own lives,” Nicholas Mitchell, the independent monitor, said.

“The odds that they are going to be able to stop a moving vehicle with a handgun are very low,” he said. “What can happen is that, if they are successful enough to shoot and hit the driver, a vehicle can become something of an unguided missile.”

There are a number of surveillance cameras in the immediate area of the shooting, but it was not clear Wednesday whether any of them recorded the shooting. Investigators recovered footage from the Crescent City Pharmacy on Simon Bolivar, but a woman working there said she did not know whether its cameras had a clear vantage point of the incident.

The Sheriff’s Office released a synopsis of Harris’ prior arrests, including “numerous narcotics violations, numerous counts of resisting arrest” and weapons charges he faced as a juvenile. “He was currently on probation until June of 2018 for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, simple escape and possession of heroin,” Fortunato wrote in an email to reporters.

Family members acknowledged Harris’ run-ins with the law but said they did not justify the use of excessive force. “You don’t judge the past, sir,” said his mother, Sandra Harris. “Eric was my good child, my loving and caring child, and they (treated him) like a dirty, low-down dog.”

New Orleans Police Department policy bans shooting at a moving vehicle unless suspects are also using a second form of deadly force, such as a firearm, and states that “shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective.” JPSO policy, by contrast, does not require use of a second form of force to justify deputies shooting at the vehicle.

Over the past year, Jefferson deputies have fired at moving vehicles at least three times, injuring a suspect in one case. In two of the cases, a passenger was inside the moving vehicle.

The Sheriff’s Office did not allege in any of those instances that officers had been fired upon.