Two sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana have been arrested on a count of manslaughter and fired after police officials said they fatally shot an unarmed man inside a parked vehicle last week.
Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III of Jefferson Parish said the officers’ use of force “was not justified” after they shot the man, Daniel Vallee, during a standoff with the police early Wednesday in Marrero, La., just south of New Orleans.
The shooting happened around 2 a.m., when the police, responding to a noise complaint in the area, found Mr. Vallee inside a vehicle parked in front of a “known crack house,” the sheriff said during a news conference Monday night.
Officers repeatedly ordered Mr. Vallee, 34, to exit the vehicle, but he refused, the sheriff said. During the standoff, which lasted about 12 minutes, Mr. Vallee locked the doors and eventually started the vehicle’s engine, according to Sheriff Lopinto.
“That, of course, escalated the situation,” he said. “Numerous of my deputies drew their weapons at that point in time, expecting him to try to take off.”
During the encounter, Mr. Vallee had raised his hands, but at one point dropped them, hitting the vehicle’s horn, Sheriff Lopinto said.
“My opinion, that horn, whether it scares my deputy or whether my deputy reacts to the shot of the horn, ends up firing his weapon,” the sheriff said. “The second deputy fired his weapons reacting to that gunfire.”
Both officers fired multiple times, Sheriff Lopinto said. The three other officers on the scene did not fire their weapons.
The sheriff identified the fired officers as Isaac Hughes, 29, and Johnathan Louis, 35. Mr. Hughes had been employed with the department since 2013, and Mr. Louis since 2020. Each faces one count of manslaughter.
“Unfortunately, the use of force in this situation was not justified,” Sheriff Lopinto said, while adding that he thought the shooting was “certainly not intentional.”
The officers cooperated with an investigation, and body-camera video of the standoff, which has not yet been released, “backed up” what the officers told investigators about the shooting, Sheriff Lopinto said.
Sheriff Lopinto said the shooting was the first to be recorded by police body cameras since the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office starting using them last year. The office adopted the technology after a video showing one of its deputies assaulting a woman attracted national news attention.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has filed several lawsuits in the past two years against the sheriff’s office, stemming from what the A.C.L.U. says are incidents of violent beatings and racial profiling.
Last week, Glenn McGovern, a civil rights lawyer hired by Mr. Vallee’s family, told a New Orleans news station, WWL-TV, that Mr. Vallee’s constitutional rights had been violated and questioned why the police did not use other tactics to get him out of the vehicle.
Mr. McGovern did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.
In an interview last week with NOLA.com, relatives of Mr. Vallee said he had long struggled with drug addiction but that he was not a violent person.
“He’s a struggling addict. That doesn’t mean he should have been shot and killed in the manner that he was,” his aunt, Tara Phillips, told the news outlet.
Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed reporting.