DISCLAIMER: All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
MARRERO, La. (WGNO)— Two former deputies of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office have been charged with the death of 34-year-old Daniel Vallee, an unarmed man who was fatally shot on the West Bank in February.
On Wednesday, 29-year-old Isaac Hughes and 35-year-old Johnathon Louis were both formally charged with manslaughter after deputies fired their weapons at Vallee as he sat in his pickup truck.
According to previous reports from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the shooting happened in the early morning hours of Wednesday, February 16 in Marrero. Around 2:15, Hughes and Louis responded to a home reportedly known to be a drug house for a noise complaint.
Deputies then found Vallee sitting in his truck outside the residence. According to the sheriff’s office, Vallee locked the doors of the vehicle and refused the cooperate when he came into contact with the deputies, who then tried to convince him to exit the truck.
For the next 15 minutes, Sheriff Joe Lopinto says Vallee raised his hands several times for Louis and Hughes, however, the situation took a deadly turn when Vallee dropped his hands to his steering wheel and hit the horn, leading the two deputies to open fire on and ultimately kill Vallee.
The entire incident was the first shooting death to be recorded on JPSO body cameras. The footage has not been publicly released, however, the two were fired and arrested after a review of the video by the JPSO Investigations Bureau. Sheriff Lopinto said that while the deputies claimed to have feared for their safety, the footage indicated their use of deadly force was ‘unjustified.’
“Their perception that their life was in danger. At that point in time, unfortunately, the use of force in this situation was unjustified,” Lopinto said in a press conference announcing the investigation.
WGNO reached out to Sheriff Lopinto on Wednesday following the announcement of the charges, however, he was unavailable to speak.
Loved ones have been outspoken following Vallee’s death, demanding transparency and answers from the sheriff’s office.
“His body was filled with bullets. They completely just destroyed a human being,” Michael Asuncion, Daniel Vallee’s cousin, told WGNO in an interview following the shooting. “We just want honesty, truth, and transparency.”
According to Asuncion, Vallee was not a violent person and that the reason he refused to get out of the car was because of a prior experience with the JPSO. Family members say Vallee was simply in the wrong place at the worst possible time.
“He was hit, he was — you know — they struck him. He had problems with them before that was the only reason he didn’t want to get out of the vehicle,” said Asuncion.