Terrebonne deputy cleared in teen's fatal shooting

Terrebonne deputy cleared in teen's fatal shooting

HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - The mother of a 14-year-old shot and killed by a Terrebonne Parish deputy last year said she is not surprised that the officer was not indicted.

On Thursday a grand jury in Houma returned a "no-true bill" relating to Deputy Preston Norman.

"They can keep their condolences, they can keep their 'I'm sorry' because I don't want it. It's too late, because I'm looking to fight this head on," said Wyteika Tillman.

She said she is not shocked that a grand jury did not indict Norman in her son's death last fall.

"I sort of kind of figured that already, so I don't really have a reaction," Tillman said.

District Attorney Joseph Waitz said he did not hold back in terms of presenting evidence and witnesses to the grand jurors.

"This is a very tragic and horrible event wherein a young man has lost his life," he said during a news conference at the courthouse.

The teenager who family members said was smart and driven, died after Norman responded to a 911 call about kids having guns at an abandoned house. Authorities have said the deputy and his partner knocked on the door, stating they were law officers, and Cameron was seen holding what appeared to be a real pistol.

"We all know that that deputy didn't announce himself. If he would have announced himself, those kids would have been out there," Tillman said. "So whatever [gun] they have now, they put it there. My son's slippers were found outside."

She is convinced the weapon story was concocted as part of a cover-up. But prosecutors displayed a picture of the BB gun and next to it a real gun.

Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said the deputy had to make a quick decision in the face of what appeared to be a real danger.

"They also must protect themselves and when that split-second decision is made to determine whether or not you're going to use deadly force or not, and that you're going home to your kids and your family. You know, that's a hard decision they have to make and I don't know if anybody that can really understand that unless you were the shoes of a police officers," the sheriff said.

Prosecutors said they made overtures to the family throughout the process. But family members take issue with that.

"I made a decision to extend to the Tillman family without limitation the opportunity to present any and all evidence they deemed relevant," said the district attorney.

He said more than 30 witnesses were called.

"Law enforcement officials, including Norman and an investigator on behalf of the Tillman family," the D.A. said.

"We had no legal representation there, or no investigator, I don't know where they got that from. I had a few witnesses of mine, a couple, but that was it," said the boy's mother.

The teenager's uncle was called to the courthouse before the grand jury's decision was made public to hear the results.

" This is an A, B honor roll student and he had way more sense and understanding to know that if a poilce officer knocked at the door not to go there with nothing in your hand," said Furnell Tillman, the teen's uncle.

"Cameron did not have a gun. There was five other witnesses in that house," said his mother.

And now the teen's family looks to federal law enforcement for the justice they seek. The boy's mother said she will file civil suits because of her son's death.

Larpenter stated that he fears others will be harmed because of the BB gun that may be mistaken for being the real thing. He is calling on Congress to step in to get such items off the market because he said they are a problem elsewhere.

The district attorney urged calm in the community after the grand jury decision was announced.

State prosecutors are turning over their case file to the feds.

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