Shreveport PD officers acquitted in man’s death, evidence not enough to sustain conviction

Tommie McGlothen, Jr., 44
Tommie McGlothen, Jr., 44(Tommie McGlothen, III)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 3:35 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Shreveport PD officers charged in the death of Tommie McGlothen Jr. have been acquitted in all charges.

Just after 9 a.m. on Friday, June 18, Judge Chris Victory agreed with the officers’ lawyers — ruling the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office failed to present evidence that could sustain a conviction, granting the defense’s motion to acquit.

McGlothen, a 44-year-old Shreveport man, suffered paranoid schizophrenia and died following a violent encounter with SPD in April 2020. The trial was initially set to begin in December of 2021, but the officers waived their right to a trial by a jury. It’s alleged that the officers used excessive force against McGlothen and that they failed to provide medical attention to him. KSLA was able to obtain dash cam video of his violent encounter with police.

Brian Ross, James LeClaire, D’Marea Johnsons and Treona McCarter were facing charges of negligent homicide and malfeasance in office. Legally, the ruling means the officers are not guilty.

With this acquittal, the officers will be allowed back on the job as patrol officers for SPD. No word yet from Chief Wayne Smith on when the officers will be back on the job — if they chose to return to the department following what their lawyers call a tragedy of a case for both the McGlothen family and the officers.

On Tuesday morning, the state called McGlothen’s father and sister to the stand. Both testified that they called SPD the day McGlothen died, asking for help in having him involuntarily committed. They told the court he was saying he wanted to die, fearing he had COVID-19.

Two of the officers charged in the case, plus a third SPD officer responded to the call. According to family and video evidence, police refused to commit McGlothen because they said he didn’t pose a threat to himself or anyone else at that time.

Prosecutors argue that based on his first encounter with McGlothen, and a second incident later the same day, police should have known he was suffering a psychiatric episode and needed help the third time they encountered him on Eileen Lane. That third encounter, according to prosecutors, led to McGlothen’s death.

Afternoon testimony centered on three experts: a critical care doctor who treated McGlothen the night he died, the pathologist who performed his autopsy and an investigative analyst for the company that makes tasers used by SPD.

Prosecutors argue McGlothen died by suffering from sudden cardiac arrest after being struck, maced and tased multiple times by police. They also allege the defendant officers failed to tell paramedics about the violent nature of the struggle.

During cross-examination, pathologist Dr. James Taylor told the court he could not determine the cause of death and did not determine the death to be a homicide. Taylor also testified that officers tasing, macing, striking and placing McGlothen’s head in a spit bag did not cause his death.

Caddo Parish Coroner Todd Thoma took the stand late Tuesday afternoon. He testified that he ruled McGlothen’s cause of death as delirium - an agitated state that left McGlothen impervious to pain, highly aggressive and delusional.

McGlothen was left largely unattended in the back of a police car for 48 minutes. And Thoma told the court his death was potentially preventable had he been taken to the hospital earlier. On cross-examination, Thoma further explained McGlothen most likely would have died regardless of when he was transported due to excited delirium having a low rate of survival.

On the evening of Thursday, June 17, prosecutors rested their case after calling 28 witnesses to testify in addition to introducing into evidence several videos capturing the struggle between the four officers and McGlothen.

Brian Ross, James LeClaire, Treona McCarter and D’Marea Johnson
Brian Ross, James LeClaire, Treona McCarter and D’Marea Johnson

For four days prosecutors struggled to establish the officers caused McGlothen’s death.

Three medical officials including an ER physician treating McGlothen the night he died, the pathologist conducting his autopsy and Caddo Corner Todd Thoma — all testified could not say with any medical certainty - that the officer’s blows, pepper pray or tazing lead to his death. That’s why the coroner never ruled his death a homicide.

In fact - it came out at trial - the D.A.’s office had to take the case before a grand jury twice before getting indictments against the officers.

Both Louisiana State Police and the Department of Justice declined to refer the case for criminal prosecution.

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