Federal suit filed in killing by Louisiana sheriff's deputy

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal wrongful death lawsuit filed Tuesday claims a Louisiana sheriff's deputy maliciously shot a man to death during an early morning confrontation in July.

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after a state grand jury declined to indict Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Deputy Holden LaFleur in the death of DeJuan Guillory.

LaFleur and Sheriff Eddie Soileau are defendants in the suit, which says Soileau should have known that LaFleur was "prone to fits of anger, mental instability, and racial animus against African Americans," when he hired LaFleur.

LaFleur is white. Guillory was black.

Neither of the defendants responded to a request for comment placed through the sheriff's office Tuesday evening.

The fatal confrontation happened after Lafleur stopped an all-terrain vehicle ridden by Guillory and his girlfriend, Dequince Brown. The two were riding on gravel roads with plans to hunt frogs early on the morning of July 6. They had no identification when they were stopped.

A summary of a state police investigation days after the shooting said Guillory struck the deputy in the head, knocking him to the ground and dazing him. The deputy stood up, drew his weapon and ordered Guillory to the ground. Guillory heeded that command but began to struggle with the deputy when he tried to handcuff him, state police said.

That summary also said Brown jumped on Lafleur's back, bit him and tried to grab his gun before the deputy shot Guillory.

The lawsuit says Brown only jumped on Lafleur after Lafleur had fired the first of multiple shots. Guillory was hit once in the shoulder and twice in the back.

The suit claims LaFleur needlessly shouted and screamed at Guillory over his lack of identification, then provoked a fight by shoving Guillory. Guillory broke off the fight at Brown's behest and returned to the ATV, the suit says. However, it says, he complied with Lafleur's order, at gunpoint, to get off the vehicle and onto the ground.

The suit alleges LaFleur had his knee on Guillory's back and had handcuffed one of his wrists when he shot.

The lawsuit says LaFleur continued firing and that an autopsy indicates the fatal shot hit Guillory in the back after he had crawled away from Lafleur.

"DeJuan Guillory posed no threat to Defendant LaFleur as Guillory crawled away from Defendant LaFleur after Defendant LaFleur began shooting at Guillory," the suit claims.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

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