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COUSHATTA, La. – The actions of Red River and DeSoto deputies involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting last year in Red River Parish were justified, a district attorney has ruled. 

A deputy’s bodycam videos show them urging a suspect to surrender and trying to get into position to use less than lethal force, before opening fire and killing the man.

On the night of March 10, 2021, Michael Laduca, 42, of Waterford, Connecticut, fled a traffic stop on Interstate 49 in DeSoto Parish. Deputy Hunter Martinez gave chase to the Jeep that had no taillights.

As DeSoto sheriff’s Cpl. Jared Adams joined the chase, Laduca turned east into Red River Parish. He pulled into an oil well site, drove through a fence, and got stuck in water.

That’s when Laduca made a run for it. DeSoto Deputy Derrick Curnutte was also on scene by then, along with Red River Sheriff’s Deputy Melvin Reliford.

Bodycam video shows them all confronting Laduca in a field, after he had taken cover behind a tree. He refused their commands to surrender, but never said a word.

But he did fidget with his waistband, which was a troubling sign for deputies.

Adams shouts to his fellow lawman whether anyone had a less than lethal weapon.

“I’ve got my taser in my hand,” Curnutte replied. He’s seen inching closer to Laduca so he could get a good shot.

That’s when Laduca is seen quickly pulling a handgun out of his waistband.

Adams fired first with a rifle, followed by a barrage of bullets from all four officers. In all, 35 rounds were fired, with 16 hitting Laduca. The officers’ shell casings were all found in a range of 15 to 20 yards from his body.

The investigation by Louisiana State Police (LSP) says Laduca’s 9mm handgun was loaded.

The deputies are seen carefully approaching the mortally wounded Laduca. After they secured Laduca’s gun, they handcuffed him. And Curnutte began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It was futile.

Red River Parish District Attorney Julie Jones agreed with findings of the LSP probe, ruling that the deputies’ actions were justified.

After reviewing the case, Jones wrote, “The circumstances confronting these officers were such that a reasonable belief existed that one or all were in imminent danger of losing life or suffering great bodily harm, and the discharge of firearms was necessary for the prevention of a potentially lethal threat.”

The investigation also showed that Laduca had a history of arrests for drugs and weapons. He had a shotgun stolen from police in Connecticut was in his Jeep.

Family and friends told investigators that Laduca was on his way to a job in New Orleans after a visit in Kilgore, Texas.

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