Grand jury clears Louisiana officer in fatal shooting
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The family of a 26-year-old man who was killed after threatening a store clerk with a lethal-looking BB gun plans to sue now that a Louisiana grand jury has cleared the officer who shot him.
The grand jury rejected three possible charges against Lake Charles Police Officer Jonathan Landrum in Juston Landry’s death, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said.
“This is truly a tragic, tragic event,” DeRosier said at a news conference Thursday. “Not only for the family who’s lost their son, their brother, their child, but for the police officer’s family. It’s just a sad and unfortunate event and so tragic.”
Landry’s family may ask the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the police department’s interactions with the community, attorney Derrick Kee told KPLC-TV.
Landrum “hunted Mr. Landry down” and “shot at him as he was running away,” he said.
The prosecutor showed video of a store clerk telling police that Landry had threatened to shoot him on Jan. 11, and police video of the officer repeating “Show your hands!” before opening fire, the American Press reported .
In the video posted on KPLC’s website, the officer is heard shouting, “Show me your hands! He’s running away! Northbound! Show me your hands! I’ve got a gun!” A bit later, shortly before shots are fired, he yells, “Hands! Put it down! Put the gun down!”
Landry was shot five times: near his right ear, near his right wrist, twice in the right side and once in the back, Police Chief Shawn Caldwell said.
There’s also video of a witness telling police he saw the running man turn toward the officer with something that appeared to be a gun in his hand, just before the officer fired.
DeRosier said Landry had a history of problems with the law and with mental health, and was carrying a BB gun that looked like a Ruger 9mm.
He said the criminal justice system is partly accountable, because Landry had been placed in mental health court but was dropped because he never showed up, and he had violated probation many times without penalty. His family and the community also are accountable, DeRosier said, because they knew he had mental problems but he never got the help he needed, DeRosier said.
“We need to address those issues,” DeRosier said. “We need to bring back to the forefront our treatment of people who have mental issues and need our help.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. We have many people throughout this parish, this state and this country who need mental help and kind of cry out for help. They don’t always get it.”
Kee said bringing up Landry’s mental problems was an attempt “to demonize the victim.”
“Somehow they missed the point that today the system has failed in a greater way than it has in the past,” Kee said. “He had an opportunity to be treated with dignity and with respect and be treated like a victim. We heard a lot more about Juston did then we heard about Mr. Landrum, how he hunted Mr. Landry down.”