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Lawsuit filed against WBR Parish, multiple officials for fatal 2019 deputy-involved shooting

2 years 10 months 1 week ago Friday, July 24 2020 Jul 24, 2020 July 24, 2020 10:08 AM July 24, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ
Vance Matranga (left), Josef Richardson (right)

PORT ALLEN - Nearly one year after Josef Richardson was shot and killed by a West Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputy as authorities were executing a search warrant, a woman who was with Richardson when he was killed is suing multiple individuals associated with the WBR Parish Sheriff's Office, including the deputy who fired the fatal shot.

Jessica Clouatre has filed a lawsuit against Deputy Vance Matranga Jr., Sheriff Mike Cazes and a host of other officials associated with the Sheriff's Office.

The lawsuit names a total of seven individuals and four organizations, including the Parish of West Baton Rouge. The suit, which was filed with the Middle District of Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, claims Clouatre and Richardson were both victims of mistreatment by officials with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office and associated organizations.

The lawsuit says the case is about, "the violation of the civil rights of Josef Richardson and Jessica Clouatre at the hands of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, and possibly other law enforcement officers and agencies, and its officers and leaders under color of state law."

The document goes on to claim the mistreatment continued for years, saying, "the systematic and illegal conduct existed over several years and was condoned by failures to act, passive actions, and simply ignoring obvious misconduct which ultimately resulted in the violent death of Josef Richardson, in front of Jessica Clouatre, causing severe emotional harm, fear, and intimidation, and false arrest and prosecution of the sole witness to the actions of the officers."  

In March of this year, state prosecutors decided that the deputy who fatally shot Richardson, Vance Matranga Jr., would not face criminal charges.

The deadly incident took place in July of 2019 when Deputy Matranga was working with members of the River West Narcotics Division to execute a raid on the Budget 7 motel room Richardson and Clouatre occupied.

Upon entering the motel room, Matranga fired his gun once, fatally striking Richardson in the back of his neck. According to Matranga, Richardson reached for what the deputy believed was a weapon.

But Clouatre's lawsuit describes the Matranga's actions as "excessive," "reckless," and showing a "callous disregard" for Richardson's life and for Clouatre's civil rights. 

The document says of the incident, "According to the only eyewitness, Jessica Clouatre (who was also sharing the room with Mr. Richardson), Mr. Richardson was shot only a few seconds after the deputies entered into the room and after Mr. Richardson had put his hands up at the officers’ command and was being peacefully taken into custody. Ms. Clouatre recalls the firearm being pointed directly to the back of Mr. Richardson’s skull before it discharged."

"Vance Matranga has stated that he intentionally shot Richardson in the back of the head. There was no legal cause to justify the use of force against Mr. Richardson, and the force used against Mr. Richardson was unreasonable and excessive. Ms. Clouatre had drawn guns pointed at her and was taken into custody, under arrest, immediately after the shooting of Mr. Richardson."  

Richardson's family also filed a lawsuit months ago, claiming Richardson was clearly unarmed when authorities entered his motel room, as he was dressed only in his underwear when shot.

Click here for the WBRZ Investigative Unit's original 2019 article on the case. 

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