Louisiana State Police have completed their investigation into the death of a Port Allen man who was shot in the back of the neck by a West Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy, prompting calls Friday from lawyers representing the man's family for the state's findings to be made public.

Completion of the review came nearly five months after deputy Vance Matranga Jr. — a nine-year veteran with the department — stormed a Budget 7 Motel room while executing a "no-knock" search warrant on July 25. While serving the warrant, Matranga fired his gun, striking 38-year-old Josef Richardson in the lower part of the head.

The bullet severed a major area of Richardson's spinal column and damaged the base of his skull, according to a parish coroner's autopsy. He died at the scene.

Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton said Friday that his office plans to ask the state Attorney General's office to review the case and determine whether to file any criminal charges. Because his office works closely with the sheriff's office, Clayton said, an outside prosecutor is needed to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

Ron Haley, the lawyer representing Richardson's family, called for the state's report to be immediately released, following months of tension and questions over whether the shooting was justified.

“We've been patient,” Haley said. “If the State Police investigation is concluded, we would like to know what those results are.”

The shooting has stirred emotions in Louisiana's second-smallest size parish and has led to a handful of demonstrations and calls for answers about what happened during the fatal encounter at the motel on U.S. 190. Richardson's girlfriend, who was in the room and saw the shooting, told The Advocate that a law enforcement officer shot her boyfriend a few seconds after entering the room.

Richardson's family, which has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff's office, has called for the U.S. Department of Justice to also investigate the shooting. 

Matranga has been with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office since at least 2012, according to department records.

He was a part of the regional narcotics enforcement team that swept through Richardson's room after detectives received a police informant's tip about possible drug activity in Room no. 5 of the motel.

Records show Matranga has had extensive gun safety training, earned a prestigious award for saving a state trooper’s life in 2011 and worked as the department's firearms instructor.

The Sheriff's Office placed him on paid leave after the shooting. He returned to work in September — mainly in an administrative role — over strong objections from Richardson's family and their supporters who angrily questioned why he was allowed to return to work.

If the Attorney General's Office declines to take the case, the local District Attorney's Office could ask the courts to appoint a special prosecutor, often one from a nearby judicial district. 

Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.