BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) — Relatives of the man killed by Bossier City police want to know why officers had to use deadly force.
Jonathan Wayne Jefferson was schziophrenic/bipolar and police had dealt with the 34-year-old several times in the past, his family said.
Police have said that the officers fatally shot Jefferson during an altercation while responding to a call about a domestic disturbance Saturday night in the area of Preston Boulevard at Plaza Circle.
Jefferson’s sister said she witnessed it all.
“When he got close to them, the first officer started shooting. And he just kept shooting. And my brother just kept walking backward. And when he got back far enough, the second officer was shooting. And as he (inaudible) to the ground, they just kept shooting.”
Police have not said how many shots were fired nor how many times Jefferson was shot.
Multiple sources have told KSLA News 12 that Jefferson was armed with a knife.
Sources also say that the officers tried to de-escalate the situation, but Jefferson did not respond to their commands and kept advancing toward them.
Two people have told KSLA News 12 that Jefferson was angrily walking toward the officers before they fatally shot him.
The witnesses were sitting in a car directly behind police and saw everything unfold through their windshield. One of them captured cellphone video of the deadly encounter.
George Ray and Penny Brown said they never clearly saw whether Jefferson was armed.
They said the responding officers drew their guns the moment they got out of their vehicles.
And from their vantage, Ray and Brown said, they saw Jefferson walking toward the police officers.
“He was talking, he was saying something, he was a little bit animated,” Ray said. “He was not running toward them or aggressive.
“He turned toward them and his attention was directed to them, and he was coming to them. He had his hands and he was talking like this.”
“They were out,” Brown added.
At the same time, the witnesses recalled, children on bicycles were rounding a corner.
A police oversight and transparency expert discussed the danger that people armed with knives pose to police.
Merrick Bobb also explained the 21-foot rule.
It’s a principle based on the fact that the average person can sprint 21 feet in roughly 1.5 seconds. And that’s about the amount of time it takes a police officer to draw a gun and fire two unaimed shots.
Sources say Jefferson was within 10 feet of the Bossier City police officers when they shot him.
“The 21-foot rule is an estimation of the minimum amount of time necessary for an officer to protect himself or herself against a knife attack,” Bobb said. “In such situations, the officer has not a great deal of time in which to respond or react.
“It’s incumbent on the officer to try to de-escalate the situation, if at all possible. But if not possible and the officer’s life is really at stake, the officer’s got to react.”
KSLA News 12 has been told that there’s police body camera video of officers’ encounter with Jefferson. Authorities have refused to release it to the public.
Bobb believes that’s a mistake.
“I absolutely believe a police departmemt serves its best interest and the public’s best interest by releasing the video and all the information as soon as possible,” he said. “That’s what you do when you want to stamp down and eliminate speculation and rumors and misinformation getting out there.”