EAST FELICIANA PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Emotions ran high during a press conference related to a man who was shot to death by a deputy in East Feliciana Parish.
As the press conference, which got underway Friday, Oct. 18, community activist, Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, confronted attending officers with a megaphone.
Christopher Whitfield, 31, was shot and killed by a deputy at a gas station in Ethel on Oct. 14. Officials with the sheriff’s office claim he was attempting to steal from the gas station when deputies were called out. An employee at the store says the man was trying to take raw chicken and a carton of eggs from a refrigerated unit behind the gas station.
The deputy who shot Whitfiled has been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
During a press conference held by EFPSO Friday afternoon, authorities admitted the shooting death of Whitfield was accidental.
Sheriff Jeff Travis says the deputy who killed Whitfield is Glenn Sims Sr. During the press conference, the sheriff went on to say Sims does have a criminal record, with charges including illegal discharge of a weapon, simple battery, and resisting an officer.
“The conduct we have uncovered in the past few days concerns me greatly and I pledge to East Feliciana Parish that we will conduct a full review of these matters and take appropriate action. “
As far as the investigation goes, Travis doubled down on not turning it over to LSP. He says he’s confident in his department’s ability to handle the matter fairly.
The family says Whitfield struggled with his mental health and despite previous run-ins with the law, didn’t carry guns and did not pose a threat to law enforcement. The family claims at the time of his death, Whitfield was unarmed and shot in the back. They’re calling for the deputy involved to be fired and arrested.
“I mean, what if I would’ve shot that person? What would’ve been done then? I would’ve been under the ground. I wouldn’t have nobody to speak for me,” Whitfield’s sister, Felicia, said during the family’s press conference at the East Feliciana Parish Courthouse Friday. “But as long as I live, as long as I got breath in my body, no one would get away with this. No one. And I promise you that I’m going to stand for my brother because he can’t speak for himself, but I guarantee you I got a voice for him, so I’m going to make sure his name lives on.”
The NAACP has requested an independent investigation into the shooting. The group’s leaders say Louisiana State Police should have led the investigation, “but it’s too late now.” Now, they want the Department of Justice (DOJ) to step in and investigate the sheriff’s office.
EFPSO is the lead agency on the case, which means it’s investigating one of its own.
Attorney, Don Cazayoux, who’s not affiliated with the case, says there’s not a legal requirement that says a third party, like LSP, has to step in. However, Cazayoux says there can be a perceived conflict of interest from the public that can make the investigation difficult.