Louisiana cops indicted for fatally shooting an unarmed motorist

Louisiana cops indicted for fatally shooting an unarmed motorist
Image via Screengrab.

Two now-former Louisiana police officers have been fired and charged with one count of manslaughter each for shooting and killing an unarmed man inside his vehicle last week.

The use of deadly force “was not justified,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III said at a press conference on Monday. He explained that ex-officers Isaac Hughes, 29, and Johnathan Louis, 35, reportedly fired into 34-year-old Daniel Vallee’s car while he was parked outside of a “known crack house” late Wednesday night. Hughes and Lewis were responding to a noise complaint when they encountered Vallee.

JPSO press conference on officer-involved shooting last week www.youtube.com

According to reporting in The New York Times, they instructed Vallee “to exit the vehicle, but he refused,” opting instead to lock his doors and start his engine.

“That, of course, escalated the situation,” Lopinto said. “Numerous of my deputies drew their weapons at that point in time, expecting him to try to take off.”

Vallee then raised his hands but quickly lowered them, striking his car’s horn. That, Lopinto explained, spooked Hughes and Lewis into discharging their firearms.

“My opinion, that horn, whether it scares my deputy or whether my deputy reacts to the shot of the horn, ends up firing his weapon. The second deputy fired his weapons reacting to that gunfire,” the sheriff said.

“Unfortunately, the use of force in this situation was not justified,” Lopinto added, although he emphasized that it was “certainly not intentional.”

The incident was captured on the officers’ body cameras, which Lopinto confirmed “backed up” their version of events.

Meanwhile, Vallee’s aunt, Tara Phillips, said in an interview with NOLA.com shortly after his death that he was “a struggling addict. That doesn’t mean he should have been shot and killed in the manner that he was.”

Phillips also noted that her nephew was homeless and had been sleeping in the vehicle, which belonged to a friend of his. She said that to her, the circumstances surrounding Vallee’s slaying make no sense.

"I want to understand. If they felt fearful for their lives ..." she said. "But was he shot because they felt disrespected? We don't know what happened."

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