PORT ALLEN, La. (WAFB) - The family of Josef Richardson, a Port Allen man who was fatally shot by a West Baton Rogue Parish deputy, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, Sept. 3 by lawyers representing Richardson’s three children, and alleges wrongful death, aggravated assault, and other wrongdoing.
Ron Haley, one of the attorneys representing the family, says they need to look beyond a public records request. This lawsuit starts a legal process to get things rolling.
“We have learned of the possibility that the firearm that was used to kill Josef Richardson was tampered with,” Haley said. “And what I mean by tampered with, the trigger point on that firearm was manipulated to where it would not have the same sort of pound pressure.”
Attorneys says they believe the trigger point was altered so the slightest touch would force the gun to fire.
“We’re going to look at the chain of custody and we’re going to look at whether the trigger point was manipulated in such a manner that is was outside the regular scope of the regulations that the manufacturer set, “Haley said.
That manipulation has not been confirmed, but they believe their sources hold weight. Attorneys want an independent firearms expert to work alongside Louisiana State Police to eliminate their speculation or confirm it.
“It’s really simple,” says attorney, Ben Crump. “We believe that any expert, any competent person who knows about guns can tell if the weight of the trigger has been altered.”
[CLICK HERE to read the lawsuit]
Crump says they don’t know if the gun was altered, but it might explain the details of that night by the only eyewitness account. Jessica Clouatre, Richardson’s girlfriend, says Richardson was shot seconds after the deputies entered the motel room.
Autopsy results show Richardson died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
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The civil complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court Tuesday, alleges Richardson was unarmed and only “clothed in his underwear” at the time of the “no knock” drug search investigation.
Clouatre was in the room when he was shot by Matranga. She says Richardson was shot a few seconds after Matranga and one other deputy, identified as “Cavaliere,” entered the room, according to the lawsuit.
She adds Matranga pointed his gun “directly to the back of the skull” before he shot Richardson.
Clouatre was later taken into custody and removed from the hotel room, where agents allegedly found marijuana, methamphetamine, and two digital scales.
Both deputies involved in the shooting have since been placed on administrative leave.
The complaint states the use of force against Richardson was “unreasonable and excessive,” and that the deputies actions’ showed “reckless and callous” disregard to Richardson’s life.
Louisiana State Police has been investigating the shooting, with plans to forward its findings to the district attorney’s office.
However, the family is asking for a federal investigation into his death.