ST. AMANT, LA (KSLA) - Jackie LaValley says she spends most days in a dark room, sleeping away the pain.
It's been nearly 3 months since her son Thomas was killed in the line of duty as a Shreveport police officer.
Earlier this week, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing Officer Thomas LaValley. Grover Cannon, 27, pleaded not guilty last week to first degree murder in the 29-year-old's death.
Jackie lives four and a half hours away in St. Amant, a small town just outside of Baton Rouge where Thomas grew up. He is now buried there. She only recently found the strength to visit his final resting place for the first time since the funeral.
She describes Thomas as a "good boy" growing up, and a jokester. Even when she cracks a smile at the happy memories, the pain is visible in her eyes and voice.
"Not knowing that you will never see him again in this life is just too much sometimes," Jackie says.
She is surrounded by reminders of her son, including countless pictures, pins, plaques given in his honor. She even has the couch her son had bought for his new home just before he was killed.
On display not far from the couch is a shadowbox that holds Officer Thomas LaValley's badge. It is the one he wore everyday on the job and the same one he was wearing when he died. It now features the traditional black mourning band wrapped around it is a reminder of that fateful night.
Jackie had just gone to bed when she heard a knock on the door.
"I saw the police officers and opened the door and said, 'Which one of my babies is hurt?' They said Thomas was involved in a shooting altercation. Then I asked if he was still alive and they said, 'No.'"
It was on August 5 that Jackie's nightmare unfolded a home on Del Rio Street in Shreveport's Queensborough neighborhood, where Officer LaValley was called to respond to a report of a suspicious person. It's still not clear yet based on the testimony so far whether he was able to fire any shots before he was incapacitated, but it is known that the shots were fired within seconds of LaValley's arrival.
LaValley was shot 6 times. Three of those were shots fired while he was helpless on the ground. Police think he may have been shot with his own service weapon.
Jackie LaValley says she was allowed in a room where her slain son was covered with a white drape, but officers wouldn't let her see him because he one of those bullets had gone through his eye. She was able to hold his hand, but she says she really wanted to hold him. It was quiet time while a frantic search was underway for Grover Cannon.
Less than 24 hours later, the manhunt was over. KSLA News 12's cameras were rolling when Cannon was brought to the police station after his capture.
Jackie, who had been flown up to Shreveport by state police, says she was in a hotel room watching the coverage. She remembers seeing Cannon and thinking, "He executed my son."
A few days later, she accompanied her son's body back to their home in Ascension Parish.
Thousands showed up and lined the route from Shreveport to St. Amant. Jackie remembers seeing people lined up along the roads holding flags and police officers and other first responders saluting as they drove by, and finding it it deeply touching.
In one of the most emotional moments of the funeral, a traditional End of Watch final radio call was made for Officer LaValley.
Representing dispatch, Officer Yolanda Williams made the call on a handheld radio.
At graveside, Jackie's sisters said a simple prayer in the face of painful reality that is sometimes too difficult for Jackie LaValley to bear.
"I just need to touch him, touch his face. Hug 'em."
Officer Thomas LaValley has continued to touch lives, however, even in death. He was an organ donor, giving a cornea and bone that was used to in grafts to heal serious and complex bone fractures for those in need. A scholarship has also been established in his name at Northwestern State University, where he graduated in 2007.