Sheriff says deputy accidentally shot and killed suspected burglar during struggle
CLINTON - The East Feliciana Sheriff's Office released details Friday after a deputy allegedly shot and killed a man who was allegedly stealing food from a convenience store earlier this week.
Sheriff Jeff Travis says deputies Glenn Sims Sr. and Houston Frazee were called to the store near the intersection of Highway 10 and 19 early Monday morning. The deputies reportedly spotted Christopher Whitfield in a fenced-in area behind the business wearing a dark hoodie and with three bags in his hands.
Whitfield allegedly fled, heading toward a nearby field and ignored commands from the deputies to stop. Sims then fired a shot into the ground in an attempt to make Whitfield stop. Sheriff Travis says a struggle ensued after Sims managed to grab onto Whitfield's hoodie, and his gun "accidentally discharged" as he was trying to holster it. The bullet struck Whitfield in the right side of his lower back, and he was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived.
The bags Whitfield was carrying were reportedly filled with stolen items from the convenience store, and he also had a knife on him at the time.
Sheriff Travis said that his department is still investigating the shooting as well as "issues" that involved Deputy Sims prior to his tenure as sheriff. Sims remains on administrative leave pending the findings of that investigation.
The news conference came after a tense scene formed outside the courthouse where the sheriff spoke with reporters. Whitfield's family gathered with protesters outside the building and stayed there for hours.
Baton Rouge-based activist Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed used a bullhorn to heckle deputies positioned outside the court house around 11 a.m. One focus of his attention was Deputy Cullen Wilson, who shot and killed Myron Flowers during a traffic stop in April. Wilson was one of the deputies standing in front of the courthouse doors as the protest unfolded.
Protesters chanting outside the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Department following the death of Christopher Whitfield. He died in a deputy-involved shooting that allegedly stemmed from a chicken theft earlier this week. @WBRZ pic.twitter.com/YluaozkUbv— Nadeen Abusada (@NadeenAbusada) October 18, 2019
Several in the crowd chanted "no justice, no peace," while others seemed on the verge of a physical altercation with authorities until the situation eventually de-escalated.