BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - According to witnesses and police sources, 34-year-old Jonathan Jefferson was advancing on two Bossier City Police officers when both opened fire on Jefferson on Saturday, August 8.
Multiple police sources say Jefferson was armed with a knife.
“Everything happened right in front of us. We had a wide-open view,” George Ray told KSLA News 12′s Doug Warner about the shooting in the middle of Plaza Circle.
“The first time the cops got out of their cars, they had guns drawn,” Ray continued.
He was a passenger in a truck being driven by Penny Brown who had pulled to a stop directly behind the two police vehicles.
“He was walking toward them. He was a little animated or excited, or whatever,” Ray said.
Ray and Brown both say Jefferson wasn’t running toward the officers in an aggressive manner but was clearly fixed on them, waving his arms around as he came within 10 feet of one of the officers.
Neither Ray nor Brown say they saw a weapon in Jefferson’s hand.
But Jefferson’s family said he was armed with a knife when they contacted police for assistance with Jefferson, who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Merrick Bobb, a police and oversight expert, told KSLA Chief Investigative Reporter Stacey Cameron that these officers’ decision making to use lethal force likely came from what’s called the 21 feet principle.
In essence, its guidance advises officers to use deadly force if an armed suspect moves within 21 feet of an officer.
“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 and deescalate the situation if at all possible. But if not possible, and the officer’s life is really at stake, the officer has got to react.”
Bossier City Police released limited details of the shooting, only reporting that the two officers have been put on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of a Louisiana State Police investigation.
But Bobb suggests, at the very least, Bossier City police should have shared with the public that Jefferson was armed if, in fact, he was. Bobb says the importance of that is to nullify any false narratives being shared across social media.
“I absolutely believe a police department serves it’s best interest and the public’s best interest by releasing the video and all the information, as soon as possible,” Bobb added.
“You want to stamp down and eliminate speculation and rumors and misinformation getting out there. You want the real story out there as quickly as possible.”
He also advised officers attempting to use a taser on someone armed with a deadly weapon, citing the fact if the taser proves ineffective, a suspect could do harm to an officer before an officer has time to draw his or her weapon.
KSLA News 12 has learned from previous officer-involved shooting investigations, Bossier City officers are not issued tasers. A BCPD spokesperson stated they are not reliable enough for officers during confrontations with suspects.