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Deputy at center of deadly shooting has resigned from EBRSO

1 year 3 weeks 3 days ago Wednesday, October 30 2019 Oct 30, 2019 October 30, 2019 1:01 PM October 30, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE – An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputy who was on administrative duty following a deadly shooting in September has resigned from the department.

The sheriff’s office has not officially identified the deputy, though WBRZ was able to connect deputy James Hammett to the shooting death of Melvin Watkins.

Hammett responded to chaotic 911 calls about Watkins aggressive behavior toward friends and family members at a party on Highland Club Ave. Shortly after arriving on the scene, eyewitnesses and video show Watkins making dangerous moves toward the deputy.

     > Listen to the 911 calls in a WBRZ news report HERE

The sheriff’s office said video from the scene shows “shortly after the deputy arrived on scene, the suspect turned his vehicle in the direction of the deputy and accelerated while disregarding verbal commands from the deputy to stop. As the suspect vehicle accelerated toward the deputy, the deputy was forced to flee backward into a neighboring yard as he was blocked in by his parked vehicle and the suspect’s vehicle. As the deputy fled backward he fired shots into the vehicle.”

Multiple sources who watched case video but asked not to be identified said the recording showed Watkins on a violent course and the deputy acted with reason. Sources spoke with WBRZ on condition of anonymity from various levels of the investigative process.

Hammett was on leave immediately following the shooting but returned to office duty until he resigned October 21, the WBRZ Investigative Unit learned.

Hammett resigned voluntarily, citing personal and family health reasons.

Watkins family hired Baton Rouge attorney Jill Craft to represent them in a lawsuit related to the shooting. Craft represented Hammett in termination proceedings when he worked for another law enforcement agency.

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