Stories of shooting death different for wife

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 1998

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 25, 1998

ST. ROSE – A domestic disturbance Saturday night went wrong, as two St.Charles Parish sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a man allegedly threatening them with a .22 rifle.”They’re not cops, they’re killers!” the dead man’s wife, who did not actually witness the shooting, claimed Monday.

Capt. Patrick Yoes reported that Russell Stebbins, 35, 41 Bonura Drive,Riverland Trailer Park, St. Rose, died upon arrival at St. Charles ParishHospital, Luling, after receiving 10 gunshot wounds from two deputies.

According to Linda Stebbins, her husband, Russell, had been drinking “seven or eight” beers. “He was not no real big drinker,” she said. “I toldhim to slack up on his drinking.”She said the argument escalated, with each threatening to throw clothing out of their trailer residence. She then ran across the street to hersister’s residence to phone police.

“When I called for help, I didn’t call them to take my husband’s life,” she sobbed.

When the first officer responded, she met him at the door and the two walked inside. She said he urged her to step outside and she did so. Asecond deputy arrived, and, according to Stebbins, had his weapon already drawn.

A friend of Russell’s arrived and Russell asked to talk to the friend, his wife related. But Stebbins said she and the friend were ejected from thetrailer by the officers. Stebbins said the officer “grabbed me by my armsand swung me out on that barbecue pit.”She hurried back across the street. “I didn’t make it across the street andI heard ‘pop-pop-pop-pop,'” she said.

The St. Charles Sheriff’s Office tells a different story.According to Yoes, a domestic disturbance call came in at 7:09 p.m.Saturday. One officer responded and talked to Linda Stebbins, who said herhusband, Russell, was in a back room.

The deputy tried to talk Russell Stebbins out to surrender. Meanwhile, thedeputy called for backup assistance.

When the second deputy arrived, Yoes continued, Stebbins came out of the back room with a rifle. The deputies removed Linda Stebbins from thetrailer for her own safety and retreated themselves from the trailer.

Stebbins soon appeared at the door of the trailer, and one of the deputies attempted to wrestle the rifle away from him. Stebbins broke away andraised the rifle, finger near the trigger, according to the police report.

With no cover and “retreat was not an option,” the officers fired, one with a 9mm and the other with a 40-caliber semiautomatic. A total of 11 shotswere fired. Ten of them struck Russell Stebbins in the chest. “They demonstrated a great deal of restraint,” Yoes commented. “Ourofficers are not trained to wound. Our procedure is to eliminate thethreat.”The entire episode, from arrival of the first deputy on the scene to the report of shots fired, took 11 minutes, Yoes said.

Stebbins was removed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Linda Stebbins insists her husband never made it to the door of their trailer, but instead said he was shot down in the hallway of the trailer. Asection of carpet soaked in his blood where he fell was removed. Therewas no blood splash at the door.

“They’re a little distraught about it, they really are,” Yoes added of the two deputies involved. “I don’t see where they had any option.”The rifle was recovered with one bullet in the chamber and nine more in the magazine. Yoes refused to identify the deputies involved, and added theincident will be further investigated.

Linda Stebbins’ sister, Marie Morrison, commented, “This is just unreal how they can do what they’ve done.”Neighbor Kelly Perry added, “People who have any problem out here will never call a cop again. What do we tell our kids now?”Linda Stebbins had been married to Russell for 15 years. The couple movedto St. Rose from Alexandria a year ago.She declared: “My whole life is just took away from me! They’re gonna pay for taking my husband’s life. I don’t want no money. I want my husband, buthe’s gone. They took his life for no reason at all.”

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