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Two sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana were charged with manslaughter and were fired from their jobs for fatally shooting a man sitting in a parked car last week.
The ex-officers, Isaac Hughes, 29, and Johnathan Louis, 35, were among five law enforcement officials who responded to a noise complaint near what Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto called “a known crack house.”
“Unfortunately, the use of force in this situation was not justified,” Lopinto said during a Monday evening news conference.
According to the sheriff’s account, the confrontation unfolded over 12 minutes at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 16 as the man in the car, Daniel Vallee, 34, refused to cooperate with the officers. Vallee turned his car off and locked the doors during the standoff, but later restarted it and dropped his hands, hitting the horn.
Hughes and Louis then fired into the car, killing Vallee.
Lopinto speculated that the horn may have scared one of the deputies, who thought Vallee intended to drive away.
“The second deputy fired his weapons reacting to that gunfire,” Lopinto said.
Vallee fought drug addiction for years but was not a violent person, his family told a local news outlet.
“He’s a struggling addict. That doesn’t mean he should have been shot and killed in the manner that he was,” his aunt, Tara Phillips, told NOLA.com.
The killing appears to be another example of deadly but preventable police violence, which has led to rising demands for reforms.
Lopinto said he was “disappointed” by the incident. He said he believed force was justified, “but not deadly force.”
Both Hughes and Louis fired multiple times into the car. They surrendered after the sheriff’s homicide department looked into the shooting and watched body camera footage.