Provided by the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office:
Review of October 15, 2013 shooting of John Shepherd by SPD Officer Tucker
The Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office has completed its review of this case. Criminal charges will not be filed against Officer Tucker as a result of the shooting death of John Shepherd. Shepherd presented an immediate deadly force threat to Officer Tucker as well as Shreveport Fire Department personnel on the scene. At the time of his death, Shepherd was armed with a knife and advancing on Officer Tucker despite repeated demands to stop. Shepherd closed to within 10 feet of the officer who was pointing a shotgun at Shepherd.
Officer Tucker was dispatched to assist SFD with a patient having a seizure. While in route to the location, Tucker was advised that SFD indicated that the patient was now armed with a knife. Tucker was then advised by SPD dispatch that neighbors reported shots fired at that location. Tucker arrived and parked several houses down from the location of the incident and armed himself with his department issued shotgun. As Tucker approached, he observed interaction between SFD and the patient who was armed with a knife. The patient was later identified as John Shepherd. Over the course of the next moments, Tucker ordered Shepherd to get on the ground, to show his hands and to get back on 11 separate occasions. SFD also yelled for Shepherd to show his hands on at least two occasions in Tucker's presence. During this time Shepherd brandished a knife and would move toward and then retreat from the location of firemen and the officer. Shepherd retrieved a large box of medical equipment brought by the fire department and retreated into the dark recesses of his carport. Tucker requested that firemen shine their flashlights on Shepherd's location while Tucker verbally engaged the person in the garage. Shepherd exited the garage while still holding the knife, Shepherd advanced while the firemen and Tucker retreated. Tucker yelled for Shepherd to get back as Shepherd quickened his pace and closed the distance between himself and Officer Tucker. During this confrontation Officer Tucker had his department issued shotgun pointed at Shepherd. As Shepherd closed the distance, Tucker discharged the shotgun one time, striking Shepherd in the chest with a nine pellet load of copper plated 00 buckshot. Shepherd collapsed and was immediately treated by SFD personnel on scene. Shepherd was transported to University Health where he was declared deceased. At no point during this encounter was Shepherd compliant with the orders shouted by Officer Tucker.
This incident was captured on the video and audio portion of Officer Tucker's MVS system. The position of Tucker's vehicle causes the actual scene to be viewed from a distance. SFD personnel can be identified by their reflective vests. 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.
Shreveport Fire Department personnel advised that they responded to a medical call for a person having a seizure. After entering the residence the patient came into view while armed with a kitchen knife. All SFD personnel fled the residence through the front door into the front yard. Shepherd followed the firemen out, chasing them with the knife. Shepherd slipped and fell in the rainy conditions upon exiting the house, but continued to pursue the firemen after getting back up. The firemen advised that they had serious concern for their safety as result of the demeanor of Shepherd and his actions with the knife. Several firemen armed themselves with fire axes for their self protection. Several SFD witnesses advised that they were convinced that the patient meant to do harm to someone and had never seen a patient so combative. SFD requested SPD to quicken their response to the scene as a result of the patient not responding to their verbal demands to put the knife down. SFD personnel confirmed the description of events noted above concerning the shooting of Shepherd.
Multiple neighbors were able to observe portions of this incident which included the firemen arriving, entering the residence and then fleeing the residence. The witnesses also observed something in Shepherd's hand. Witnesses also described Shepherd retreating into the garage with the box brought by the fire department and then exiting the garage and advancing on Officer Tucker. Neighbors reported to 911 that shots had been fired at the scene prior to the arrival of the officer. Investigators have been unable to positively identify the source of this sound. The sound may have been the slamming of the front door or Shepherd dropping the medical case in the garage.
The rate at which Shepherd finally approached Officer Tucker varies depending upon the witness. Tucker and firemen indicate that Shepherd increased his pace towards Tucker which is consistent with the ground that Shepherd gained on Tucker. There is also a difference in the elevation of the knife held by Shepherd as described by the witnesses. 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. Officer Tucker fired one time, at which point the threat posed by Shepherd ended and immediate medical care was provided to Shepherd.
An autopsy was performed which indicated that Shepherd died as a result of the single penetrating gunshot wound which entered the lower right chest/right upper quadrant of the abdomen. The buckshot pellets caused damage to the ribs, both lobes of the liver, the lower right lung and the right ventricle of the heart. The wound track was from front to back and left to right. Shepherd was described as a 58-year-old male, weighing approximately 195 pounds and approximately 6'4" tall. Most importantly, the autopsy estimated the range of fire as approximately 9 feet. Toxicology tests indicated that Shepherd had 250 ng/mL of oxycodone – free in his system. The prescribed concentration of this substance is generally less than 100. The autopsy also noted wide spread contusions in various stages of healing all over Shepherd's body. There were abrasions involving the knees and left wrist, consistent with Shepherd's fall upon exiting the residence. There was also a laceration of a finger on the left-hand of the deceased as well as serious medical issues involving the great left toe.
It appears that John Shepherd was suffering from some medical episode that led to his erratic and aggressive behavior which led to his death.