A young African-American man and his girlfriend were riding an ATV down a gravel road in Mamou, Louisiana, where they were hunting for frogs in ditches and ponds, when they were stopped by a sheriff’s deputy.
The situation escalated rapidly for the man and his girlfriend
A struggle between the two men ensued, and the deputy shot and killed 27-year-old DeJuan Guillory, CNN reports.
There are only two people who know what happened in the early hours of July 6: The deputy who fatally shot the young man, and Guillory’s girlfriend, DeQuince Brown. She has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer.
The accounts of what led to his death in this farming community of rice fields vary widely.
Holden LaFleur, the Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy, told Louisiana State Police that the young man punched him and that Brown climbed on his back to reach for his gun as he tried to arrest her boyfriend. But an attorney for the Guillory family tells a different story. He alleges that the deputy started the physical confrontation. He added that LaFleur first shot Guillory in the back while he was face down on the floor, then fired several more shots.
This case has placed LaFleur and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office in the public eye. LaFleur was a defendant in a civil lawsuit stemming from the 2014 death of a man when the deputy was working in a different department. And in 2016, the Justice Department found the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office had unconstitutionally imprisoned people without probable cause, CNN reports.
Mamou, with a population of just 3,200 people, has also found itself in the public eye. The killing has sparked concerns about whether the shooting was race-related. LaFleur is white and Guillory is black. People living within the community say it is racially harmonious, with many mixed-race families.
But Monica Fontenot, a former Mamou police officer and Guillory’s mom, sees things differently. She no longer trusts local police. On a GoFundMe page for her son’s funeral, she wrote:
The law I once believed in is deteriorating.
While Guillory’s mother struggles to pay to bury her child, this deputy is on paid administrative leave
Like too many white police officers who shoot and kill African-American men, LaFleur has been placed on paid administrative leave. He has not been charged in relation to Guillory’s death.
Joe Long, an attorney for DeQuince Brown, gave an in-depth interview to Daniel Banguel, a reporter for Penpoint News, describing what Brown witnessed, Heavy.com reports. And his account is vastly different than what LaFleur told Louisiana State Police.
[She] said that she and Mr. Guillory were on a four-wheel vehicle late at night, they were four-wheeling…they were riding on a gravel road…and they passed an officer who was on the side of the road.
The officer stopped the young couple and asked for their ID’s, but they weren’t carrying them at the time.
The officer became angry and called Guillory over to his unit to continue interviewing him. I think it started out a traffic stop, and the officer’s temper got to him. It was a fist fight and [Guillory] had retreated. If he retreated, there’s no need to kill the man.
Long also said that Brown told him the argument between LaFleur and Guillory was verbal to begin with.
The officer was in Guillory’s face giving him grief about not having his ID on his person, and Guillory was arguing back…the officer wasn’t satisfied with the answer. The officer was in his face, pointing his finger.
Then at one point, Guillory allegedly pushed LaFleur back, to get the officer out of his personal space, Brown told Long. But then the officer shoved him and the fight was on, with Guillory punching him at least twice. Brown called out to to her boyfriend, asking him to walk away, and the young man went back to his ATV.
But at this point, Long alleged, “the officer drew his weapon and told both of them to get on their ground on their belly. That’s what they did…Guillory put his hands behind his back, waiting for the officer to handcuff him,” Brown’s attorney said.
The situation quickly went from bad to worse. Long continued:
The officer had a gun trained at Guillory’s back, maybe a foot or two from Guillory’s body. They were still arguing back and forth, but Guillory was on the ground as directed, his hands were behind his back. He wasn’t resisting. All of a sudden a shot rang out. Brown knew that Guillory had been shot. She then jumped on the officer’s back to stop him from killing Guillory.
Then she bit the officer on the back of the neck, in the hopes of preventing him from shooting Guillory, but instead the officer fired three more shots, Long told Banguel. The the young woman picked up the deputy’s radio to call for help. In the moments before his death, the young man begged for his life, Long said.
Guillory was saying ‘please don’t shoot me, I have three kids.’ He was very afraid.
The attorney added that Brown said that at one point, the officer told Guillory, “shut the fuck up or I’ll shoot you.”
State police say LaFleur told them he asked Brown and Guillory for their IDs when he pulled them over. The officer had just finished responding to a call about a stolen ATV, police said in a press release. LaFleur said in an affidavit that Guillory had struck his head with enough force that he “saw stars,” CNN reports.
In the affidavit, LaFleur also contended that Brown “approached LaFleur from behind … jumped on his back and placed her arm around his neck, punching him, pulling his hair, and attempting to grab his gun.”
Now Courtney Fontenot, the mother of Guillory’s two young sons, is trying to find ways to help the boys deal with their loss. In a social media post, she wrote:
While everyone is arguing and making this all about race and who is right and who is wrong, my sweet boys are here wondering why their daddy had to leave them so soon. They don’t care who did what.
They just wish they could see their dad again.
You can watch the CNN video below for more information.
Screencap courtesy of CNN
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