The 10 police officers who shot at and killed Lucien Rolland on Interstate 10 in Slidell after a 45-minute, two-parish car chase last month have all returned to their regular duties, spokesmen for each of their agencies confirmed Thursday.
Rolland led officers from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police and Slidell Police Department on a pursuit that began near Slidell in the early morning hours of Sept. 19 and raced across the U.S. 11 bridge into Orleans Parish before returning to St. Tammany on Interstate 10.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Rolland fired at deputies soon after the chase began and continued to fire throughout the incident.
State Police were able to puncture one of the tires on Rolland’s 2003 GMC Sierra pickup as he sped east on I-10 into Slidell. He came to a stop on the overpass over Gause Boulevard, where he got out of his truck and fired again, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies and other officers returned fire, striking Rolland 18 times and putting numerous bullet holes in his white truck.
Rolland was pronounced dead at the scene. Parish Coroner Charles Preston said Rolland had been hit by bullets of multiple calibers and that it was impossible to tell which wound or wounds proved fatal.
The St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident, a spokesman said Thursday, but the eight deputies involved have been cleared of wrongdoing and returned to their regular duties.
They are Sgt. Eric Pearson, a 13-year veteran; Deputy Ricky Steinert, a nine-year veteran who attempted to make the initial traffic stop of Rolland’s truck; Deputy Nathan Stokes, who has been at the Sheriff’s Office for one year; Deputy Chris Graham, a nine-year veteran; Deputy Scott Seals, who has been with the office for three years; Deputy Brent Pitre, a two-year veteran; Deputy Charles White, a six-year veteran; and Detective Matt Velasquez, a two-year veteran.
None of the deputies involved has ever had any complaints alleging use of excessive force filed against him, Capt. George Bonnett said.
“Investigators have determined that the deputies and officers were justified in shooting at Rolland, but other elements of the investigation are ongoing,” Bonnett said.
Slidell police Officer Justin Stokes also has been cleared of wrongdoing and returned to regular duty as a K-9 officer, Police Department spokesman Daniel Seuzeneau said. Seuzeneau said Stokes had “no negative write-ups” in his file, which he said means investigators had not found any credible complaints against Stokes.
State Trooper Raymond Martinez is back on assignment at Troop L, spokesman Nick Manale said. A State Police investigation into Martinez’s role in the shooting is ongoing. Such investigations frequently take several weeks, Manale said. Martinez has had no disciplinary issues and no documented complaints, Manale said.
The initial Sheriff’s Office report said Steinert saw Rolland’s truck straddling the center line on Pontchartrain Drive. When he tried to pull it over, shots were fired from the driver’s side window and Rolland sped south on Pontchartrain Drive, slowing around the 4700 block, where a passenger jumped out, according to the report. Deputies have interviewed the passenger, who has not been arrested in connection with the chase. His name has not been released.
Rolland continued to lead deputies on a chase into Orleans Parish before getting on I-10 headed back toward Slidell, where he eventually was stopped, got out of the car and fired shots at the officers, who returned fire, killing him, according to the report.
The release of the names of the deputies and the Slidell officer involved in the shooting follows an article published in The New Orleans Advocate last weekend examining the patchwork of policies governing the release of names of law enforcement officers involved in shooting incidents.
State law in Louisiana does not require that law enforcement agencies release the names of officers or deputies who are the subject of criminal or administrative investigations, though officer-involved shootings frequently result in requests for their names.
The St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office has no official policy on when to release the names of deputies involved in fatal shootings. That decision is left to Sheriff Jack Strain, Bonnett said.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.