Dec 3, 2012 8:30 PM by Maddie Garrett
Sunday's shooting involving a police officer isn't the first, and won't be the last incident where a law enforcement officer opens fire on a suspect. In all, there have been at least seven officer involved shootings in the past year across Acadiana, dating from December 2011 to December 2012.
Lafayette Parish saw three shootings, St. Martin Parish also with three and one incident in Vermilion Parish. In four of the shootings, the suspect was shot and killed by law enforcement.
The most recent case in Lafayette happened after a bank robbery in September. Lafayette Police shot and killed the suspect, Thomas Helvik, after he allegedly robbed a Lafayette bank and fled the scene. That case is still under investigation, however police said the officer involved is back at work.
In St. Martin Parish, State Police are continuing to investigate three shootings from September and October of this year. In one incident, St. Martin Parish Sheriff's deputies shot and killed Alvin Davis, Jr., after deputies said Davis hit a deputy with his vehicle. That case is still under investigation pending an autopsy report. In the others, the suspects received minor injuries and are now facing criminal charges.
Two cases in Lafayette from several months ago are closed. In May, suspect Jarvin Malveaux received minor injuries and was charged with attempted murder of an officer. The second shooting happened in December 2011, at Campus Crossing apartments. Lafayette Police shot and killed robbery suspect, Quamaine Dwayne Mason. The officer involved was not indicted in the case.
But a different scenario in Abbeville, also in December 2011, when Abbeville Police Officer William Proctor opened fire at a vehicle when the driver refused to stop. Officer Proctor was fired following the incident, the driver was not injured.
With all of these shootings involving police, there is protocol officers are supposed to follow. Long time law enforcement officer and former Natchitoches Police Chief Ralph Peters said there is a state-wide protocol officers are supposed to follow when using deadly force, and it's something that isn't taken lightly.
"No officer wakes up in the morning, goes to work with the idea of shooting someone, so that's a very traumatic, trying event," said Peters.
Peters spent over 30 years in law enforcement. In that time, he's seen it all and dealt with cases where officers opened fire in the field.
"Officers are trained to use their weapon in defense of their life or the defense of someone else's life and those are the only times officers should be using their weapons," Peters explained.
With that said, Peters added things can happen quickly in the field and officers must rely on their training and instinct.
"The firearm, is the last choice an officer has. Sometimes it's the first choice because the circumstances are so immediate," said Peters.
Those circumstances don't always involve a suspect with a gun though. He said vehicles can be a dangerous and powerful weapon.
"When you're out in the street investigating a case and a car's coming at you and doesn't stop and the only alternative you have is to fire a weapon," said Peters.
And when bullets are fired, an outside agency like State Police conducts a criminal investigation. But Peters said the police department will also do an internal affairs investigation to make sure the officer followed policy.
"It is entirely possible officers involved in shootings could have not followed policy but not committed a crime," he said.
As KATC has reported, this recent shooting in Breaux Bridge is still under investigation. It could be weeks before authorities determine if the officer was justified in the shooting.