Josef Richardson (copy)

Josef Richardson.

 PORT ALLEN — The family of a man fatally shot in the back of the neck by a West Baton Rouge deputy joined with others from the community on Sunday outside the motel room where he died, holding lit candles as they called for answers and demanded political change.

They gathered a month after a sheriff's deputy executing a search warrant shot Josef Richardson, 38, in the back of the neck at the Budget 7 Motel along U.S. 190, a few miles north of Port Allen. 

Richardson's family and their attorneys have called for a federal investigation into the July 25 shooting by West Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy Vance Matranga.

Few details have emerged from state and local officials since the deadly encounter, compounding anxieties and worries of trust in the sheriff's office and the state officials investigating the shooting. 

A spokesman for the Sheriff Mike Cazes' office has said the agency completely recused itself from investigating the shooting and welcomes a federal review.

Richardson's sister, Kieki, was among about three dozen people who held lit candles and wore shirts reading "Justice 4 Josef" outside room No. 5 of the motel where Richardson had been living.

"I pray that we find out exactly what happened, and everybody who was involved may be dealt with appropriately," she said. 

Richardson suffered a single and fatal bullet wound to the back of the neck, according to a coroner's report. The release of those details has fueled sharp questions about the shooting. 

Louisiana State Police are investigating the shooting and plan to forward their findings to the local prosecutor’s office. They haven’t offered a timetable for when they expect to complete their review and have provided no further details since the evening of the shooting. 

Richardson’s girlfriend, Jessica Clouatre, was arrested at the motel on the night of the raid on suspicion of a handful of drug charges. 

An attorney representing her said she reported that officers stormed the room and that one fired just seconds after bursting through the door. 

A narcotics task force had been investigating alleged drug activity after a district judge approved a "no-knock" warrant that allowed them to enter the room without knocking.

Richardson's nephew, Reynard Douglas, urged those at the vigil to take their frustrations to the voting booth Oct. 12.

"There needs to be change in the sheriff's department," he said.

The incumbent sheriff, Cazes, faces three Democratic competitors vying to be the parish's top law enforcement official. 

Family and community members plan to hold more vigils on the 25th of each month.

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.