The Investigators: Taken Too Soon

The Investigators: Taken Too Soon
Published: May. 2, 2016 at 6:52 PM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2016 at 9:35 PM CDT
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Janet Gassie sitting on the bench across from the mausoleum of her daughter, Emiley Gassie...
Janet Gassie sitting on the bench across from the mausoleum of her daughter, Emiley Gassie Thibodeaux.  (Source: WAFB)
Janet Gassie sitting on the bench across from the mausoleum of her daughter, Emiley Gassie...
Janet Gassie sitting on the bench across from the mausoleum of her daughter, Emiley Gassie Thibodeaux.  (Source: WAFB)
The mausoleum of Emiley Gassie Thibodeaux, 23, who died after she was shot once in the chest...
The mausoleum of Emiley Gassie Thibodeaux, 23, who died after she was shot once in the chest while her husband was cleaning his gun.  (Source: WAFB)

ADDIS, LA (WAFB) - Janet Gassie comes around the corner to her daughter's mausoleum every day. She takes a seat at the bench across from the burial spot of her daughter, Emiley Gassie Thibodeaux, 23, and talks to her daughter's grave.

"I miss seeing your pretty smile," Gassie said. "I wish you would come to me and tell me how to handle all this."

On February 5, Emiley had just got home from work as a teacher at Holy Family School. Her husband of just eight months, Ivy Thibodeaux, who goes by "Trey," told detectives he was cleaning his handguns with his wife next to him.

"The next step for the gun, he had to actually pull the trigger and so with my daughter sitting right there, about two feet away from him, he pulled the trigger and he hadn't checked for a bullet," Gassie said. "There was one left in it and it just so happened, she was right there and it shot her."

Just an hour and a half later, Gassie was told her daughter did not make it after she was shot once in the chest.

"I was in shock because I never expected one of my kids to get shot," Gassie said.

Because Thibodeaux is a reserve officer for the Addis Police Department, Louisiana State Police were called in to investigate. Nearly three months later, LSP wrapped up its case and handed it over to the District Attorney's office. Tony Clayton is the lead prosecutor on the case.

"State police, in my opinion, has thoroughly vetted this file," Clayton said.

However, the entire time State Police investigated the incident, Thibodeaux was never arrested.

Kiran: "What everyone is asking is why was he not arrested?" 
Clayton: "The law enforcement agencies make that call and that is a call made by them. If the grand jury sees fit to indict him with negligent homicide, I will immediately ask the judge for a warrant for his arrest."

But State Police said they were the third party investigating agency.

"Our responsibility is to gather the facts and present to the district attorney for his review and consideration of charges," said Capt. Doug Cain with LSP.

Kiran: "How do you feel that your son-in-law hasn't been arrested for this?"
Gassie: "I feel like he needs some type of punishment. He needs to be held accountable for my daughter's death."

Gassie is wrestling with angels. On one hand, Thibodeaux is her son-in-law and has been in her family's lives for nearly six years. On the other hand, she said he stole her little girl forever.

She said Thibodeaux told her the Addis Police Department trained him in gun safety, not to mention his military background.

"He should have checked the gun. He claims he lost track of whether he had checked the gun or not," Gassie said.

In the days that followed Emiley's death, Gassie ran into Thibodeaux at the cemetery.

Gassie: "He just said that you know, 'It was God's will. It was her time,' and I said 'You don't tell the mother of the child you shot that.'"
Kiran: "How many times has he said that to you."
Gassie: "He said it to me three times."
Kiran:  "You remember all three?"
Gassie: "I remember all three."
Kiran: "Why?"
Gassie: "Because that infuriated me that the person who pulled the trigger is now blaming God."

She said she clearly remembers another conversation with him.

"I said 'I wish Addis would have never made you a police officer because it probably never would have happened' and he said no, don't blame the Addis Police Department because he said 'I have six other guns,'" said Gassie.

Now, instead of driving to go see her daughter at home, she drives to the cemetery and has done so every single day since she buried her daughter.

"I do it three times a day, morning, again around lunch time and then again 4 to 5 o'clock in the evening," Gassie said. "This is where I spent my birthday in March, in this graveyard with my baby. I don't want my baby to be alone. Everybody says you know she's not in there. But I say her body is there."

Gassie said she asks her daughter to send her a sign: does she want Thibodeaux arrested or does she still love him?

When she died, Gassie said her daughter had on a necklace with her initials on it and her wedding date, May 29, 2015. She also had on a watch. Her mother has not taken either off since then.

"It makes me feel close to her because that's the last piece of jewelry she had on," Gassie said.

All the flowers, notes and pictures at Emiley's mausoleum are from her friends and even her students who still come by to visit their teacher.

As to why there are no angels, crosses or even a bible on Emiley's mausoleum, her mother said she only wanted ballet shoes and teacher's books.

"I just found the way it took place, her death, and so young, that it wasn't fitting. This wasn't supposed to happen. This was not God's will. This was man's will," Gassie said.

Kiran: "If this were truly an accident, will this officer walk away with no charges possibly?"
Clayton: "Yes."
Kiran: "A police officer who should be trained in using guns, if he is cleaning a weapon in front of his wife and it goes off and kills his wife, is that not gross negligence?"
Clayton: "That's for 12 people of West Baton Rouge to make a determination and they will on May 11."

The Investigators reached out to Thibodeaux, who said, "I don't want to talk."

Thibodeaux is still a reserve police officer for the Addis Police Department, but Chief Ricky Anderson said he is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The case will go before a grand jury on May 11.

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