Man fatally shot by St. Tammany deputies after manhunt Tuesday was hit seven times, bitten by police dog _lowres

Advocate staff photo by FAIMON ROBERTS -- Thor

The father of a man fatally shot last year by St. Tammany Parish deputies has filed a $2 million federal lawsuit against Sheriff Jack Strain, alleging that the deputies used excessive force, including the use of a police dog, and that the Sheriff’s Office later ignored repeated requests for information about the incident.

Richard Greenwood, the father of Darien Greenwood, filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

Darien Greenwood was shot and killed by Sgt. Robert Edwards and Deputy Ronald Olivier after a chase and manhunt in October.

The Coroner’s Office later determined that Greenwood had been shot seven times, hit twice with a stun gun and bitten repeatedly in the arm, leg and torso by a trained K-9.

Darien’s death was “devastating” for his father, with whom he was “very close,” the suit says.

And it was unnecessary, the suit argues, saying the deputies used more force than was needed to subdue Greenwood, who had fled into a wooded area near the intersection of La. 59 and Interstate 12.

The incident began when a homeowner returned home and found Greenwood and another man breaking into the house. The homeowner called 911, and deputies spotted the two men in a car near La. 59 and I-12, starting a chase that ended when Greenwood was shot.

When deputies found him, Strain said at the time, Greenwood was hiding under a woodpile and was armed with a knife. After Greenwood threatened the deputies who approached him, Strain said, they released a police dog named Thor, which bit Greenwood several times. Greenwood stabbed Thor in the neck and shoulder, and the deputies opened fire, hitting Greenwood seven times.

“In an effort to stop the K-9 from attacking him, Greenwood may have injured the K-9,” the suit says.

Thor was taken to a Mandeville veterinarian’s office, where he was treated and eventually released.

A few days later, Sheriff’s Office deputies staged a rally — complete with patriotic music and speeches — to welcome Thor home. Parish President Pat Brister proclaimed Oct. 23 as “Deputy Thor” day.

The suit also faults Strain for his actions after the killing. Richard Greenwood has asked several times for information related to his son’s killing but has been rebuffed, despite promises that it would be made available, the suit says.

“Jack Strain has failed to take any public action to date and communicate any of his actions with Mr. Greenwood, including but not limited to the production of an investigative report,” the suit says.

A Strain spokesman confirmed Thursday that both deputies involved in the incident were returned to regular duty, an indication they were cleared after an internal investigation. The spokesman refused to give any other information, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

Strain will leave office Friday after 20 years. Randy Smith, the Slidell police chief who formerly worked under Strain, defeated Strain in a runoff election last year.

A spokesman for Smith said he would not comment on the suit but that all pending litigation would be reviewed by Milling Benson Woodward LLP, the firm that will represent the Sheriff’s Office after Smith takes office.

Greenwood is one of three people who have been shot and killed by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies in less than a year. In September, deputies, State Police and a Slidell police officer fatally shot Lucien Rolland after a chase through two parishes, and in March, a deputy killed Joshua Dale Douglas after a chase near Mandeville.

All the deputies involved have been cleared and returned to normal duty.

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.