BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Since a deputy-involved shooting claimed the life of her husband in early September, Margaret Watkins has maintained her husband’s actions didn’t warrant his death.
She’s now taking legal action in hopes the court holds that deputy accountable for what she calls the “wrongful death” of her husband.
A lawsuit filed Monday, Sept. 23 details Watkins’ version of events on the day of the shooting. In the filing, her attorney writes Watkins’ husband arrived at a residence on Highland Club where a party was taking place. Watkins’ husband engaged in a verbal disagreement with one of the party attendees, then later refused to leave when asked, at which point law enforcement was contacted, according to the filing.
Watkins’ husband “voluntarily removed himself from the residence and headed toward his car parked at least two (2) doors down,” when an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived, briefly spoke with some guests who were standing outside of the residence, and opened fire, according to the filing.
“At no time was Mr. Watkins threatening toward said defendant officer, took no action toward said defendant officer, and was completely unarmed. In fact, Mr. Watkins was in his car, with the windows rolled up, and was not engaging with anyone. He was simply leaving as requested,” Watkins’ attorney wrote in the lawsuit. “Nonetheless, less than nine (9) seconds after arriving at the residence and upon exiting his vehicle, said defendant officer fired two (2) shots into the front windshield of Mr. Watkins’ car, striking him in the chest. As a result of the gun blasts, upon information and belief and therefore Petitioner alleges, Mr. Watkins’ lost control of his lower extremities causing his foot to depress the accelerator of his car. Thereafter, said defendant officer fired at least three (3) more shots into Mr. Watkins from the driver’s side of the car. As a result, Mr. Watkins was killed and his car careened out of control down the street, flipping over, and coming to rest in the front yard of a residence.”
That version of events has not been proven to be true as an investigation by Louisiana State Police remains ongoing, and information related to the shooting has not yet been made public.
“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,” wrote an LSP spokesman when WAFB reached out for an update on the investigation Tuesday, Sept. 17.
The only publicly released information on the shooting came from the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, which on Monday, Sept. 16., conducted an autopsy which revealed the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and upper extremities.
The name of the deputy who shot Watkins’ husband has not yet been made public by LSP or EBRSO. In the filing, the deputy is referred to only as an “unidentified officer.” Watkins’ attorney wrote in the filing that East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has declined to release the name even to her despite public records requests and inquiries.