PORT ALLEN, La. (WAFB) - The West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office has identified Vance Matranga as the deputy who fatally shot Josef Richardson in July while serving a search warrant.
Matranga was hired by the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2010 as a reserve deputy before being hired full-time in 2011. He is on paid leave as an investigation, led by Louisiana State Police, continues.
On July 25, Matranga was a part of the River West Task Force, which was executing a search warrant for drugs at the Budget 7 Motel in room #5 in Port Allen.
The search warrant states, “The River West Narcotics Task Force received information from a reliable confidential informant that a quantity of Methamphetamine is located [at the Budget 7 Motel]."
The warrant goes on to say a confidential informant had purchased meth in the last 72 hours from a black male at the Budget 7 Motel.
The WBRSO deputy was asked in the warrant to search for and seize several different things, including any cell phones, money, guns, pictures and videos, or any other evidence that could show the distribution/possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, which is a felony.
Because drugs can be hidden on a person, the warrant also asked the court to grant officers the right to search anyone found at the residence and for the warrant to be executed at any time, including during the day, night, weekends, and/or holidays.
During the search, Josef Richardson was shot by Deputy Matranga.
Autopsy results released by the West Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office show that Richardson died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
The coroner’s office says the bullet severed part of Richardson’s spine. The office goes on to say it has determined the death was a homicide. A homicide does not mean a violation of criminal law has occurred. The coroner’s office says that determination will be made by the district attorney’s office.
Jessica Clouatre, Richardson’s girlfriend, was in the room when he was fatally shot by Matranga.
She was allegedly found to be in possession of numerous drugs. The report says she was taken into custody and removed from the hotel room, where agents found marijuana, methamphetamine, and two digital scales.
Richardson’s mother, daughter, brother, sister, and other family members spoke out about his death during a news conference on July 31. Several attorneys, including one representing Clouatre, also spoke.
Read more about the press conference here:
Matranga is a POST firearms instructor and member of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
When WAFB’s Carmen Poe approached WBRSO for more details about Matranga’s past, she was given a stack of certificates and a copy of a fender bender the deputy was involved in.
WAFB later learned Matranga was honored by LSP in 2011 after saving a trooper’s life in a separate officer-involved shooting.
Richardson’s attorneys told WAFB the same incident makes them question Matranga’s tactics since in that situation he shot the suspect. The suspect did not die. Richardson’s attorneys say unlike that incident, the July 25 investigation was not a life or death situation.
Matranga was also named in a federal lawsuit detailing an incident in December of 2016 in which Matranga is listed as a defendant. According to that filing, Matranga tackled Fedreck Johnson, who was running from another officer at the time. The fall after that tackle resulted in Johnson’s leg being broken.
The suit also claims Johnson was denied medical help for hours, despite verbally telling first responders and members of law enforcement at the scene he was suffering extensive pain related to the injury.
West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes, among several others, is listed in the suit.
The attorney representing Johnson said in an interview Thursday, Aug. 15 that there has been little effort in getting the situation resolved.
“They have been completely irresponsible and unresponsive to acknowledging any wrongdoing happened,” attorney, Oliver Hadley, said.
The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing.