St. John deputy shot passenger of crashed vehicle after he reached for an AK-47, sheriff says
LAPLACE, La. (WVUE) - Officials have released more information regarding a deputy-involved shooting in LaPlace around 5 a.m. on Sun., April 3.
In a press conference Wed., April 6, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre says the incident began when Kendell Pembrook, 19, and Jacoby Williams, 20, were stopped at a red light on the exit ramp of I-10 at Hwy. 51 for over an hour.
Tregre says after an hour, and after multiple cars and 18-wheelers had driven around the vehicle and down the highway, Pembrook’s foot must have come off the brake, as their car traveled straight across four lanes of the highway and into a marsh.
“God must have been with them for his foot not to come off the brake with 18-wheelers coming by and everything else,” Tregre says.
Deputies responded to calls of a car in the marsh. Tregre says neither Pembrook nor Williams called 911.
Both men were in the partially submerged vehicle for 12-18 minutes while deputies looked for the vehicle in the pitch dark, Tregre says. Neither man had exited the vehicle by this time.
Deputies approached the vehicle, but returned to their units to swap their service shoes for knee boots to stay dry. Tregre says until this point, his deputies believed they were on a rescue mission. Still, nobody had exited the vehicle.
St. John deputies approached and opened the passenger door, finding Williams with an AK-47 on his lap, Tregre says. Deputies ordered for both occupants not to move and to put their hands up, at which point, Tregre says Williams initially complied.
A 5-year veteran, Shaquille Guerin, grabbed Williams, who then resisted, pulled away from the deputy, and grabbed the AK-47, Tregre says. It was at this point Guerin fired a single shot, striking Williams in the face.
Tregre says his deputies immediately began life-saving first-aid, and decided to put Williams in a unit and rushed him to a hospital, where he was listed as critical and remains hospitalized.
A second handgun was found in Pembrook’s driver’s seat. He was taken in for questioning, at which point he asked for an attorney.
Pembrook was arrested Sunday on an outstanding charge and faces a careless operation charge for staying in the roadway for so long. State police say Williams is facing four counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and resisting an officer with force or violence. A warrant will be executed upon his release from the hospital.
According to family members on Facebook, Williams remains in critical condition but is squeezing hands, moving feet, and responding to questions by squeezing his eyes.
“Some progress has been made,” Katia Simone Williams wrote. “Please continue to keep Jacoby in your Prayers.”
“We won’t accept this!” a cousin, Amber Monique Domino wrote. “We won’t allow for authorities to cover this up! We won’t let up!”
Guerin has been placed on paid administrative leave while Louisiana State Police investigate.
St. John deputies are not currently equipped with body cams. The NAACP is calling for that to change, to provide more transparency in cases like this.
“It’s my personal opinion the officers were acting out of fear,” Shondrell Perrilloux of the St. John chapter of the NAACP said following the press conference.
Officials were not able to comment on the results of any toxicology tests.
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