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Family claims man killed by deputy was unarmed
BATON ROUGE – An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputy was uninjured in a deputy-involved shooting that left another person dead Saturday afternoon.
Law enforcement swarmed the Highland Club neighborhood off Jefferson Highway near the parish line around 6 Saturday evening after some sort of gunfire erupted.
Authorities were called to a dispute at a home in the 16700 block of Highland Club Avenue. State Police say, when authorities intervened a deputy discharged his weapon striking the suspect. The suspect that was later identified as 54-year-old Melvin Watkins. Watkins was pronounced dead on scene.
According to a report from The Advocate, Watkins was unarmed and leaving the home in his car when he was killed. The report says Watkins arrived to the birthday party to pick up money from his wife. He'd reportedly not been invited because of his "loud and boisterous" traits, the report says.
Family members say Watkins got into a small argument with a relative and was asked to leave. The report states he never threatened or attacked anyone.
The Advocate also obtained video from family members capturing moments before the shooting—it shows the deputy parking his car in the center of the street and exiting his vehicle. He encounters several people on the driveway and they wave him off-camera toward the street. In an interview, they said that is where Melvin Watkins was shot. Ten seconds after the deputy exits his car, the family members react in shock to something happening out of view of the camera, in the direction of the street.
The neighborhood is near the Highland Road intersection with Jefferson Highway. Homes in the neighborhood are valued around $300,000.
Authorities started rushing to the scene before 6 after an initial disturbance call.
State Police will handle the investigation.
The sheriff's office released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.
"It is the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office policy to have all deputy involved shootings investigated by the Louisiana State Police. We have qualified investigators that could investigate this matter. However, we have an outside agency conduct the investigation to ensure that it is independent and objective. We realize that right now information is being put out through other unofficial sources, but the law enforcement investigation is still ongoing by the Louisiana State Police. We ask the public to reserve judgment until this investigation is completed by the State Police, and we thank you for your patience during the investigative process."
Monday, the coroner's office said a preliminary autopsy showed Watkins was shot multiple times in the chest and upper extremities.
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