A state trooper who shot an unarmed man as he fled from a 2018 traffic stop behind a Perkins Road store, partially paralyzing him, pleaded not guilty Friday.
Kasha Domingue, 43, of Baton Rouge, was indicted in October on counts of aggravated second-degree battery and illegal use of a weapon in the shooting of Clifton Dilley, a Baton Rouge man who was 19 at the time. The indictment marked the first time in District Attorney Hillar Moore III's 11-plus years as prosecutor that an officer was charged with a crime after killing or injuring a civilian with gunfire.
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If convicted of battery, Domingue faces up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The weapon count is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of $1,000.
Domingue, who graduated from the Louisiana State Police training academy in December 2015, appeared Friday before state District Judge Tiffany Foxworth in civilian clothes.
Following the shooting, Domingue was assigned to desk duty at Troop A in Baton Rouge, but was placed on paid administrative leave after her indictment.
Lt. Nick Manale, state police spokesperson, said that the agency's internal administrative investigation has been conducted and completed, and that procedural steps were underway for disciplinary action, though he did not specify what the discipline was. Domingue remains employed with State Police.
Manale added that no further information can be released until the official disciplinary action has been issued.
"We absolutely believe that she is not guilty," her attorney, retired Baton Rouge police officer Tommy Dewey, said outside the courtroom after the arraignment. "We look forward to the opportunity to prove that in front of a judge or jury."
The shooting occurred July 10, 2018, behind Village Grocery on Perkins Road. Dilley was a passenger in a car whose driver had been pulled over for allegedly making an illegal U-turn.
A state investigator's affidavit says Dilley was charging toward Domingue when he was shot, but a federal lawsuit claims he was running away.
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Domingue initially reported to dispatch that she had fired her stun gun at Dilley, rather than her service weapon, which slowed the emergency response, the lawsuit alleges.
"We want the opportunity to explore and explain that in the future," Dewey said Friday.
The shot wounded Dilley in the lower back, causing "severe and permanent" injuries, according to Don Cazayoux, his attorney. When Dilley showed up to Domingue's indictment in October, he was in a wheelchair.
"Trooper Domingue...caused substantial harm in this case by shooting Mr. Dilley in the back when he was unarmed and only a witness of a traffic stop," Cazayoux said after the indictment.
Dilley's lawsuit says surveillance footage from Village Grocery provided evidence of the encounter. Dewey said he has not yet seen the video.
The Advocate reported in 2018 that Domingue had been wearing a "defective" body camera that did not record the shooting, according to the trooper's attorney at the time. The lawyer also said Domingue had been driving a new State Police vehicle that was "not properly equipped" with a dashboard camera, a device that typically records all State Police traffic stops.
Just hours before Dilley's shooting, Domingue had fired her stun gun after pulling over a vehicle without a license plate in Baton Rouge. A passenger also fled the scene and Domingue fired her stun gun at him as he climbed a residential fence on Oak Creek Road, a use of force report states.
That was one of three prior instances within an eight-month span in which Domingue fired a stun gun at people she encountered while on duty, all of whom were unarmed, according to use of force documents obtained from State Police.
Domingue's next court date is April 29.