Judge releases suspect from jail 24 days before deadly teen shooting

Judge releases suspect from jail 24 days before deadly teen shooting
Desmond Bryant, Jr. (Source: Family)
Desmond Bryant, Jr. (Source: Family)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A 14-year-old boy tragically lost his life after he was shot multiple times during a dispute between two young men. The boy was an innocent bystander who was allegedly killed by a man who was released from jail less than a month ago.

On Saturday, December 12, Desmond Bryant, Jr. was sitting in a parked vehicle in the 3400 block of Choctaw Drive for what was supposed to be a quick stop. Little did he know that a violent confrontation was about to occur and that his life was in danger.

"It was a big shock, because they were supposed to be going to the store," said Jackline Williams, Desmond's grandmother. "They made a detour."

A 20-year-old man who lives with Bryant's uncle was the driver of the vehicle. Williams says the two were very close.

"They stopped by to see [the 20-year-old's] girlfriend and [the shooter] showed up," Williams explained. "[The shooter] didn't know Desmond was in the car."

Police arrested 20-year-old Carson Thomas several days after the shooting.

"You could look at it from all types of views, but you could never actually understand it," said Desmond Payne, the boy's father. "I don't think anyone targets a child. I can't think like that myself, so I can't see anybody actually wanting to."

Thomas is being held in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a $160,000 bond. It's his third trip to the parish prison this year.

According to court records, Thomas was arrested in July for several traffic violations and aggravated flight from an officer and was released on bond in November. A couple weeks later he was arrested again, this time charged with illegal possession of a stolen firearm, possession of marijuana, entry after remaining forbidden and obstruction of justice.

"…[Thomas] was observed in a parking lot with clearly placed 'NO LOITERING' sings," the officer wrote in the probable cause report. "[I] have instructed [Thomas] on several occasions that he is not to be at this location but [he] ignores [me]. This location has been the place of numerous violent shootings with a triple homicide several months ago.

"[Thomas] noticed police units as he was standing talking to the co-defendants and started to walk away briskfully," the report continued. "As [Thomas] opened the door to the store [I] observed a pistol in [his] front waist band. [I] yelled at [Thomas] (STOP!!! POLICE!!!) but [Thomas] ran into the store.

"Once into the store [Thomas] took his shirt off and threw a stolen gun onto the top of a freezer along with his keys. Witnesses advised of this action and the firearm was located on top of [his] Louisiana ID."

The case was reviewed by Judge Bonnie Jackson. Based on the information provided in that report submitted by the Baton Rouge Police Department, she determined there was no probable cause for the arrest, and ordered Thomas to be released.

"My office has reviewed the probable cause report and additional police reports from this arrest," said District Attorney Hillar Moore. "Despite the findings of no probable cause based upon the probable cause report alone, I anticipate that formal charges will be filed against this defendant for this arrest."

Less than one month later, Thomas is back behind bars, now accused of murder and attempted murder.

"I hate for my son to be a sacrifice to open people's eyes," said Payne. "He was a real good boy. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He was just with his family. Just the area we're in, people just don't care about life. I hate that my child had to experience that."

Desmond, or DJ as he was called by friends and family, leaves behind five younger brothers, his father and mother Ykisha Bryant.

An account has been established for those wishing to help with the family pay for the medical bills not covered by insurance. Donations can be made at Pelican State Credit Union under account number 230852.

The funeral service will be held Saturday, December 19 at Church of God, 3135 Ozark Street.

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