CLINTON — Officials say the 28-year-old man killed in the Friday night officer shooting in Clinton was armed with two guns and a civilian witness reported seeing an exchange of gunfire among him and two officers.

Myron Flowers was a back-seat passenger in a vehicle stopped late Friday in Clinton for an equipment violation, and though the driver complied with officers, Flowers did not, according to East Feliciana Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Greg Phares.

“The driver of the car ... was apparently compliant and cooperative, but when the officer attempted to question Mr. Flowers, who was in the rear seat, he noticed a gun in Mr. Flowers’ pocket,” Phares said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “He attempted to secure that gun, and Mr. Flowers struggled with him, and that’s how it started.” 

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Phares said State Police, who are assisting in the investigation, have not yet processed forensic evidence from the scene that could prove Flowers also fired one of his weapons at the officers.

However, Phares confirmed that deputy Cullen Wilson, who made the initial traffic stop, and Clinton police officer Richard Boudoin fired their weapons during the encounter, killing Flowers. Boudoin had been called to provide backup to Wilson, Phares said.

Phares noted that statements from Wilson and Boudoin are consistent with the statement about the exchange of gunfire provided by the civilian witness. However, he declined to go into detail about what the officers told investigators and would not identify the civilian witness.

And despite noting that investigators have yet to examine or get results back on physical evidence, Phares said results of the initial investigation show that the shooting was justified.

“The information we have at our disposal now indicates that both officers acted legally within the provision of (the) law,” Phares said.

The traffic stop that ended with Flowers’ death occurred about 9 p.m. Friday on Jackson Street near the RKM Primary Care in Clinton. Phares said he did not know the specific equipment violation that initiated the traffic stop but said he believes it had to do with lighting. He said he did not know if any tickets or citations were issued during or after the stop.

There is no body or dash camera footage of the incident, however, Phares said there is a low-quality video from a local business, which investigators are reviewing.

Phares noted during the news conference that Flowers has been convicted of two felonies since 2010, both for drug possession, and that those convictions made it illegal for him to carry a firearm. He also said one of the firearms that officers found on Flowers was reported stolen.

Flowers’ family said Flowers was a father of one young boy, an uncle, cousin and brother to many. They said while he has been in trouble with the law before, he was not a violent man and it took a lot for him to be provoked.

“There are just so many unanswered questions that we have,” Kenuatra Smith, Flowers’ cousin, said after the news conference.

She said she was glad to hear directly from authorities, but is concerned the investigation will be slanted in the favor of the officers. She noted that neither officer was tested for intoxication after the shooting.

Phares said he personally evaluated Wilson for signs of impairment but saw none, so no further toxicology testing was completed.

“We really need to see the video,” said Sheilla Flowers, a relative of Myron Flowers.

She said she had heard eight to 10 gunshots from her house on Friday night and was shocked to learn later it was her family member who was killed.

Sheilla Flowers and other relatives said they don’t understand why both officers fired at Myron Flowers and believe there must have been a way to handle the situation than to shoot him.

East Feliciana Sheriff Jeff Travis promised a fair and thorough investigation into all the details.

“This is a very difficult incident for law enforcement; this is a very difficult incident for our community,” Travis said. “Our sincere condolences and our prayers go out to Mr. Flowers, his family, friends and our community.”

Wilson is a K-9 officer with the Sheriff’s Office who has worked there for several years, Phares said.

He declined to say if Wilson has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, saying that he does not comment on personnel issues.

Boudoin was hired with the Clinton Police Department about five months ago, Chief Ned Davis said. He was put on administrative leave after the shooting, which he called standard practice.

Wilson, who initiated the traffic stop, knew Flowers personally, officials and Flowers’ family said. However, both noted that Clinton is a small town where most people are acquainted with each other. It did not appear that Boudoin knew Flowers.

Phares said investigators are looking into reports of an altercation or interaction that Wilson and Flowers may have had earlier in the day prior to the shooting. But there was no indication those rumors were true as of Monday, Phares said.

Flowers’ autopsy report had not been completed as of Monday afternoon, officials said.

Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.