BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The wife of a man killed by an East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office (EBRSO) deputy Saturday, Sept. 14, says members of law enforcement were called to escort her husband out of a party, not to kill him.
“He didn’t have the right to kill him,” said Margaret Watkins. Watkins’ husband, Melvin Watkins, 54, was shot by an EBRSO deputy for reasons still under investigation.
Watkins and her family were celebrating her aunt’s birthday at a home in the 16000 block of Highland Club Avenue. Melvin showed up to get some money from Margaret then had a few drinks at the party. He then got into an altercation with another guest, Margaret says.
“He had come in like he was trying to break the door down and he had a screwdriver in his hand,” said Margaret.
That is when the police were called.
"They wanted the police called so they could escort him out of here, not to kill him,” Margaret said.
Margaret says Melvin eventually went to his car to leave. Shortly after, an EBRSO deputy arrived.
A video appears to show the moment those who knew Melvin reacted in shock and horror as he was met by the deputy and fatally shot. From the short clip released to WAFB Tuesday, Sept. 17 by family members, the deputy appears to pull up, briefly talk to a few people outside, and then walk out of frame.
What happened next is not visible on the video, however, the people still in view of the camera react in what appears to be a panicked state.
Margaret says after he had been shot, Melvin’s car rolled down the street, hit two mailboxes, hit a white car in a driveway, and then flipped, coming to a rest in a yard.
“I think when he shot up in that car so many times and struck him in the chest and killed him,” Watkins said. “And then the car just, I guess while he having his foot on the gas, brake, he just took on off.”
An autopsy conducted Monday, Sept. 16. determined the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and upper extremities.
Margaret said her husband was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
"You should’ve had just shot the tires or something like that, but you didn’t have to kill my husband because he wasn’t no threat,” Margaret said.
EBRSO has since turned the investigation over to Louisiana State Police (LSP).
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux issued the following statement about the investigation:
“It is the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office policy to have all deputy involved shootings investigated by the Louisiana State Police. We have qualified investigators that could investigate this matter. However, we have an outside agency conduct the investigation to ensure that it is independent and objective. We realize that right now information is being put out through other unofficial sources, but the law enforcement investigation is still ongoing by the Louisiana State Police. We ask the public to reserve judgment until this investigation is completed by the State Police, and we thank you for your patience during the investigative process.”
WAFB reached out to LSP for an update on the investigation Tuesday, and received the following statement:
“The investigation into the East Baton Sheriff’s Office deputy involved shooting remains active and ongoing. LSP Detectives are in the process of interviewing witnesses, analyzing evidence, and examining all aspects of the incident. No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation. Upon completion, the findings of the investigation will be delivered to the East Baton Parish District Attorney’s Office.”