A Black Louisiana man with a mental illness was shot and killed running from police after allegedly stealing a raw chicken Monday morning.
East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis announced Friday during a press conference that the shooting that left well-known community member Christopher Whitfield dead was accidental, according to The Advocate.
Travis said Glenn Sims Sr. had unholstered his gun and fired a shot into the ground to get Whitfield, who was running away from an area store at the time, to stop, The Advocate reported.
When Sims caught up to Whitfield, he grabbed the back of his hoodie, and the two struggled until Whitfield struck Sims’ weapon while the officer was trying to reholster it, The Advocate reported of Travis’ remarks.
The gun again discharged.
Deputies had been called to the area by a store owner who said a man had broken into the cooler and stolen the chicken, according to The Advocate.
Whitfield’s family told WBRZ the 31-year-old man was diagnosed with a mental illness, which the community is well aware of.
Whitfield had been released from jail earlier this year, WBRZ reported.
A spokesman with Louisiana State Police told the news station the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office is leading an investigation into the shooting with help from state police.
The deputy is currently on paid administrative leave, WBRZ reported.
It’s unclear how Houston Frazee, another officer on the scene, was involved in the incident, but Travis released his name to reporters Friday.
The incident triggered protests outside the courthouse in the county seat of Clinton, Louisiana, Friday morning, news agencies reported.
“It’s about time these senseless and avoidable killings stop,” Ambrose Sims, vice president of the West Feliciana branch of the NAACP, told The Advocate. “Today there are two types of justice in America. Among white communities, law enforcement is looked upon as a protector, as a friend, as a neighbor. Conversely, in black communities … the officer is the intimidator, the oppressor, and now he’s the executioner. This has to stop.”