SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - No charges will be filed against the Shreveport police officer who fatally shot a local man in October who was wielding a knife.
58-year-old John Shepherd was shot once by SPD Officer Phillip Tucker after responding to a home in the 500 block of Americana Street on the night of October 15.
Paramedics had been called to the home after a woman there called for help, reporting that the man was having difficulty breathing. Police would later describe Shepherd as exhibiting "an altered level of consciousness."
At some point during the incident, police say Shepherd armed himself with a kitchen knife and became combative. EMS crew members who were there trying to help Shepherd were forced to retreat to safety.
When officers arrived on the scene, Shepherd reportedly approached officers and fire department personnel with the knife. In spite of "multiple loud, verbal, commands to put the knife down," Shepherd reportedly "rapidly advanced toward Officer Tucker," forcing the officer to open fire.
Shepherd was struck once in the upper body and taken to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
According to a statement released Thursday detailing the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office findings, "Shepherd presented an immediate deadly force threat to Officer Tucker as well as Shreveport Fire Department personnel on the scene."
Noted in the findings were reports of shots being fired in the neighborhood before Tucker arrived on the scene, and that the incident was captured on the video and audio portion of Officer Tucker's MVS system. However, the position of Tucker's vehicle caused the actual scene to be viewed from a distance. Still, the DA's statement goes on to say that the audio portion of the recording "confirms the multiple verbal commands issued by Tucker to Shepherd. This incident was also witnessed by 6 SFD personnel and several neighbors."
As for whether Shepherd posed a real threat to the armed officer, the findings state, "There is no question that whether held higher, intermediate level or low, Shepherd was advancing on Tucker with an edged weapon."
"A suspect advancing on an officer with an edged weapon is a deadly force situation. When the officer has time to provide verbal warnings and the suspect continues to advance, the danger of the situation is only increased. There is no requirement, and common sense dictates, that a deadly force situation be responded to with a "less lethal" option which may or may not be effective. In this situation, Officer Tucker was not supported by any other armed officers and was forced to defend his life."
Shepherd died from the gunshot wound, but the district attorney ultimately concludes that Shepherd "was suffering from some medical episode that led to his erratic and aggressive behavior which led to his death."
Toxicology tests and autopsy results showed a relatively high level of oxycodone in his system and various injuries and bruises.
Officer Tucker was placed on administrative leave following the fatal shooting. He has been working for the department since February 2009.