DA: Officer-involved shooting death of Travis Stevenson was justified

DA: Officer-involved shooting death of Travis Stevenson was justified
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Six deputies were cleared of any wrongdoing after a lengthy investigation into an officer-involved shooting that left one man dead in February. District Attorney Hillar Moore announced the findings of an official report released by his office in a press conference Thursday.

"The death of Travis Stevenson was legally justified and no criminal responsibility can be found for the deputies involved as they were legally exercising their rights of self-defense and defense-of-others," states the official report.

Six deputies with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office - General detectives Sgt. Charles Montgomery and Det. Shannon Broussard, Homicide detectives Sgt. Scott Henning and Cpl. Chris Masters and uniform patrol deputies Lt. Michael Birdwell and Sgt. Verner Budd from the Gardere substation - were on the scene when the shooting happened.

I spoke to the suspect on the phone, he said he's going to the grave tonight and we can meet him on the Mississippi River Bridge. He's about to jump off.

Chilling police dispatch audio from the night of February 23 showed what officers described as an unfolding dangerous situation.

The six EBRSO deputies were responding to a domestic violence call when they encountered 48-year-old Travis Stevenson, who allegedly fled the scene after attacking his girlfriend.

Deputies finally tracked him to an apartment complex in the 1300 block of Terrace Avenue near Eddie Robinson Drive, where the DA said the situation turned violent.

RELATED: La. State Police investigates deadly officer-involved shooting in Baton Rouge

"Stevenson refused to get out of the vehicle and instead proceeded to ram backwards into Lt. Birdwell's unit and rapidly accelerate forward into a metal pole into the building in front," Moore said.

Moore said after repeated attempts to get the suspect to comply, one deputy ended up in the path of the car. Out of fear for their safety, he and the other deputies opened fire, striking Stevenson several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Four of the responding deputies discharged their firearms," states the report. "Stevenson was struck several times, resulting in his death. The incident was not recorded on any dash cameras or body cameras. Furthermore, there is no video of this incident known to law enforcement."

LSP investigators from Hammond were called in to handle the investigation, while the Baton Rouge Police Department handled the crime scene.

"The autopsy report confirms that Stevenson at the time was under the influence of alcohol and drugs," Moore said.

On top of those factors, the report said Stevenson may have also suffered from mental health issues. Moore said an investigation into the case is over. The deputies' actions were justified.

"The facts, physical evidence, statements and the law are clear that those involved in this case acted lawfully to protect themselves and others," Moore said.

The DA said he had hoped to release these findings earlier, but the events over the summer, including the Alton Sterling killing, police ambush and historic flooding, pushed back the review.

This case is one of four officer-involved shooting deaths that occurred within East Baton Rouge Parish in 2016. The DA's office is not involved with reviewing the case involving Alton Sterling.

Read the full report from the DA's office below:

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