WATSON, La. (WAFB) - It has been “five, long hard years,” said Brandi Hicks, the ex-girlfriend of the man who was shot and killed by a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy.
Hicks fought through the tears to tell her story, a story she wants out to the public.
"I should have left a long time ago," said Hicks.
Hicks says she’s a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Aaron Sparkman.
On the night of Dec. 16, 2019, an off-duty deputy with LPSO ended up shooting and killing her ex; Hicks says she knew he was coming for her that night.
"I strongly believe it was not supposed to end that way. It was supposed to be me," said Hicks.
Her relationship with Sparkman started in late 2014. Together, they have a son, who is now 3-years-old. Just a few weeks into their relationship, Hicks says the abuse started.
"He slammed my head in the dash of the truck over the bridge of the Amite River and I thought I was going to die that day on that bridge. We made it home. It continued until he passed out drunk," said Hicks.
Over the years, she says the abuse only got worse.
“There were plenty of nights that I had that same gun. I hid it in the house. I would never go to sleep before him,” said Hicks.
She added she hid the gun “because I was scared. The days he would drink, I was scared to death.”
So why did she stay with him?
"Because love is blinding, love can blind you. It's hard to leave when you love someone," said Hicks.
Nearly three years later, she started documenting the abuse with pictures of when she was choked. She even collected evidence of his temper: a fan he broke, glass shattered from the microwave, and even damage to her car. She says she was starting to collect evidence in order to get a restraining order against him.
Hicks and Sparkman had a home together in St. Helena Parish.
A 2017 police report shows a deputy responded to the home after Hicks called saying, “Aaron is abusive and she’s scared that he might hurt the baby so please send police out right away,” according to the report.
Eventually, Hicks did walk away from the relationship and started to see Caleb Browning, the Livingston Parish deputy.
In December of 2019, Hicks and Browning had just returned to his Denham Springs home from a party. Hicks was going to leave to head back to her home in Greensburg. Officials say Sparkman texted Hicks repeatedly and after getting no response, headed to Browning’s home.
What happened next was caught on surveillance video.
It’s described by officials in their report below:
“As a part of the investigation, State Police were able to view surveillance cameras which captured the entire confrontation from different angles. The videos show Mr. Sparkman emerging from a wooded area adjacent to the home with a gun pointed at Mr. Browning. Although there is no audio, both Mr. Browning and Ms. Hicks indicated that Mr. Sparkman fired several shots as he approached the residence through the woods, which is corroborated by the finding of six fired 40 cal. cartridges at the edge of the wooded area. As Mr. Browning stands stationary in his driveway, Mr. Sparkman aggressively approaches Mr. Browning as both men have their guns pointed at each other. Mr. Browning actually drops his arm to his side at one point to attempt to de-escalate the situation as Mr. Sparkman continues to approach. As he gets closer, the videos show that Mr. Sparkman’s weapon discharges as he swings toward Mr. Browning’s head and hits Mr. Browning with the weapon. Mr. Browning responds by discharging several close range shots as the two men wrestle each other and exchange gunfire. Both men are struck by the other person’s gunfire. Mr. Browning received a severe leg wound while Mr. Sparkman’s injuries were fatal. Authorities are immediately contacted and dispatched to the location.
That video played a crucial role in helping prosecutors announce they will not charge Deputy Browning.
“A person is able to defend themselves and even use deadly force if it is necessary to protect themselves from eminent danger or possibly losing their life or great bodily harm. In this case, we thought it was clear that Mr. Browning had every right to defend himself at even use deadly force,” said Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.
While WAFB has a copy of the entire video, we have stopped it at the point where the off-duty deputy fires the first shot.
Based on the video, prosecutors declared “Browning’s actions were in self-defense and were completely justifiable.”