VILLE PLATTE, La. – A grand jury has declined to indict a sheriff's deputy in the fatal shooting of a man who had been riding an all-terrain vehicle with his girlfriend in rural Louisiana.
The grand jury on Wednesday brought no charges against the Evangeline Parish sheriff's deputy, who is white, in the July 6 shooting death of 27-year-old DeJuan Guillory, who is black, according to KATC-TV.
District Attorney Trent Brignac didn't immediately respond to calls and an email seeking comment on Thursday.
Guillory's girlfriend, Dequince Brown, was arrested on a charge of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. In a statement four days after the shooting, State Police said the deputy was struggling to handcuff Guillory when Brown jumped on the officer's back, bit him and tried to grab his gun.
The police version has been disputed by Joe Long, a lawyer who once represented Brown and now represents relatives of Guillory. He said Brown was trying to stop the deputy from killing her boyfriend and only jumped on his back after the deputy fired a first shot at Guillory, even though the man was lying on his stomach, being handcuffed with one hand behind his back.
The district attorney told KATC that the deputy fired six shots, and three struck Guillory.
In a July 10 summary of its findings, the State Police said Guillory struck the deputy in the head, knocking him to the ground and "dazing him with a possible loss of consciousness," after the deputy stopped the all-terrain vehicle that Guillory was driving. After the deputy stood up and drew his gun, Guillory heeded a command to lie on the ground, but began to struggle with the deputy when he tried to handcuff him, State Police said.
Brown and Guillory had been riding on gravel roads that night with plans to go "frogging," catching frogs with their hands by flashlight, Long said.
The deputy had responded to a reported theft of an all-terrain vehicle just after 4 a.m. before he stopped the four-wheeler. He asked them for identification, but neither could produce any, State Police said.
The State Police forwarded its investigative report to the district attorney's office in early November. The report hasn't been publicly released. Meanwhile, Long, who represents Guillory's mother and the mother of his two young children, said the district attorney cancelled two meetings with him and his clients this month and, as of Thursday afternoon, still hadn't informed them of the grand jury's decision.
Long told The Associated Press he isn't surprised that the deputy wasn't charged. He questioned why Brown was charged before the State Police finished investigating.
"Our opinion is that everything (the district attorney) did was to clear the police officer from the very beginning," Long said. "The only way you don't get an indictment is if you don't want one."
The deputy was treated at a hospital for injuries that weren't life-threatening, according to State Police.
The sheriff's office in rural Evangeline Parish was a target of a recent Justice Department investigation. Federal investigators concluded that the sheriff's office — and a police department in the parish — routinely used unconstitutional "investigative holds" to arrest and jail hundreds of people for questioning during criminal investigations.