Four of the six East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies present at the Feb. 23 fatal confrontation in Old South Baton Rouge fired about 20 rounds, killing the unarmed and reportedly suicidal man in his car, the district attorney said Wednesday.
The deputies shot 48-year-old Travis Stevenson multiple times in the head and torso after Stevenson allegedly rammed his sedan repeatedly into a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.
Authorities assert Stevenson used his vehicle as a weapon against a deputy during the 10 p.m. encounter.
Louisiana State Police and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office are investigating the shooting, which came hours after Stevenson allegedly attacked his girlfriend and her child with pepper spray and then threatened to jump off the Mississippi River bridge.
Deputies blocked Stevenson’s white sedan after locating him in a small gravel parking lot next to an apartment building on Terrace Street and attempted to drag him out of the vehicle, smashing a window on the vehicle in the process, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has said.
Stevenson smashed his car backward into a deputy’s vehicle and forward into a metal pole next to the building, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.
But the exact circumstance that led deputies to open fire remained unclear Wednesday.
Moore said although Stevenson had several feet of room between his vehicle and the deputy’s in which to maneuver, he allegedly tried to hit a deputy with his car.
“Initially, (the deputy) didn’t put himself in a bad position,” Moore said. “When the car started moving is when everything changes.”
However, Moore said he couldn’t address details about how the deputy wound up in danger from Stevenson’s vehicle because the incident remains under investigation.
No video of the incident exists, Moore said.
Casey Rayborn Hicks, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, and Trooper 1st Class Bryan Lee, a State Police spokesman, both declined to address whether the Sheriff’s Office vehicles involved in the incident were equipped with dashboard cameras. East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras.
Hicks and Lee also declined to further discuss the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office on Friday released the names of all six deputies — two patrol officers and four detectives — who were present at the shooting. It wasn’t clear Wednesday which of the six deputies fired their weapons.
All six are on paid administrative leave until the investigation is concluded, which is standard procedure in such cases, Hicks said.
Stevenson’s car left ruts in the small, gravel parking lot, and bits of plastic from a vehicle’s tail light remained scattered in the street days after the shooting.
Sheriff’s deputies first contacted Stevenson by cellphone earlier on the evening of Feb. 23, shortly after he allegedly attacked his girlfriend and her child in her Gardere-area apartment about 8:30 p.m.
Stevenson told deputies over the phone he was going to jump off a Mississippi River bridge, Hicks had said, prompting a search of both the Interstate 10 and U.S. 190 spans on the river.
Sheriff Gautreaux, speaking to reporters from the scene shortly after the shooting, speculated that Stevenson may have intentionally provoked deputies to open fire. “I can’t really say what was in his mind, but it’s highly likely,” Gautreaux said.
Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.