By T. Scott Boatright
The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office has teamed with sheriff’s offices in six other North Louisiana parishes to help conduct investigations involving the use of force that results in death or serious bodily injury.
LPSO public information officer Matt Henderson said the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit first went into action last month.
“The investigative unit kicked off on March 4 of this year,” Henderson said. “A group of seven sheriffs got together wanting to get a group of detectives together and offer third-party investigations to incidents where force is used to cause serious bodily injury or death to a suspect. In our most recent case — the first case we’ve done — is an in-custody death.
“It’s nothing more than a chance for these agencies to provide more transparency where you might have as many as six agencies coming in to investigate an incident that occurred at a parish sheriff’s office.”
Henderson said that members of the parish sheriff’s office in the parish that an incident occurs in will not be part of the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit studying that particular case.
“Whatever agency is involved in the incident would not have a representative investigating the incident, hence allowing that third-party group to come in and put their eyes on the particular case,” Henderson said.
The parishes included in the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit, or NLSIU are made up of criminal investigators from six parishes — Caldwell, Franklin, Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, and Union — along with Lincoln Parish.
Personnel assigned to the new unit from each parish have been trained and are experienced in various fields of law enforcement including violent crimes, death investigations, and officer-involved shootings.
The first and only case investigated by the unit so far was an in-custody death that happened in Monroe on April 3. The NLSIU took charge of the investigation on April 7.
Reports of that case say an officer with the Monroe Police Department encountered an individual, later identified as David Harris, 51, near the intersection of Standifer Avenue and Alabama Street in Monroe.
Harris was described as behaving very erratically and was transported to Ochsner LSU Medical Center in Monroe. After arriving, Harris reportedly became combative and fought with officers for several minutes. Harris was then said to be placed under arrest and transported to the Ouachita Correctional Center (OCC).
Reports say that within minutes of arriving at OCC, for unknown reasons, Harris became unresponsive. Deputies and medical staff assigned to OCC reportedly began rendering medical aid until emergency medical services arrived at the scene, but despite the attempted life-saving measures, Harris passed away.
Investigators have started interviewing witnesses, gathering statements, and reviewing camera footage from the incident and the investigation is said to be ongoing.