There have been many recent news stories involving wrongful deaths caused by police officers. Every situation and news story has been different, but one common factor that constantly comes up is the issue of race or racial tension and differences. It’s hard to prove in these lawsuits whether race was a definite determinant in the cause of someone’s death. Louisiana has recently had some police officer-involved wrongful deaths; here are some details on one of the most recent cases:
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Louisiana Sheriff’s Wrongful Killing
Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Holden LaFleur was not indicted for the death of DeJuan Guillory. The lawsuit was filed less than a week after a state grand jury failed to accuse him. Apparently LaFleur, who is white, has been known to be “prone to fits of anger, mental instability, and racial animus against African Americans,” which Sheriff Eddie Soileau claims he didn’t know when he hired him. The state police investigation summarizes the shooting as this: Guillory and his girlfriend were driving on a gravel road without any identification. Guillory knocked the deputy in the head, and once he got up he drew his weapon and ordered Guillory to the ground. Guillory’s girlfriend, according to the investigation summary, jumped onto the deputy’s back, bit him, and attempted to grab his gun. That’s when the deputy shot Guillory multiple times; the fatal shot was in the victim’s back when he was crawling away.
Why Does This Story Matter?
The suit claims that Guillory posed no threat to the deputy, and that the incessant shots at the victim while he was crawling away were unnecessary and malicious. This story is a key example of the inconsistencies in legal opinion; was the sheriff racist, and if so how could you prove that? Were Guillory and his girlfriend actually posing a threat to the deputy, and if so how could you also prove that? Factual claims are easy to dispute, but when it comes to symbolic claims there are many other factors to consider.