Deputy recovering from stab wounds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2002


LAPLACE – A man led away from the scene of the May 23 shooting death had a different mission in mind. The Rev. Joseph Smith Sr., 62, of 1033 Gemini Drive, Reserve, was only stepping inside the crime scene tape to see if he could identify the shooting victim. Instead, he found himself led away in handcuffs for ignoring instructions of a deputy to clear away from the scene.

Rather than asking for identification, a deputy chose to handcuff the pastor of New Rescue Mission Baptist Church and charge him with resisting an officer by refusing to move on, Smith said, still upset over the incident.

“All he could’ve done was ask for identification,” Smith said after posting $15 bond to be released.

Capt. Michael Tregre of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, commented Smith was not allowed inside the crime scene tape and added only: “It’s very short and simple.”

Edward P. “Peanut” Stewart, 41, of 222 Marquez St., Mt. Airy, a man suffering from schizophrenia for at least 25 years, but with no history of violence, was shot to death Thursday morning in LaPlace by sheriff’s deputy Charles Wale III.

Stewart’s funeral is Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Michael Baptist Church at 701 Colonial Drive in LaPlace. Visitation starts at 10 a.m.

Wale, 23, of LaPlace, was defending himself from being stabbed by a broken pair of scissors when he fired, according to Sheriff Wayne L. Jones. Wale is recovering at home from his injuries, according to Tregre, who added, “He’s doing pretty good.”

Stewart had come into the Hibernia Bank branch at 1200 W. Airline Highway at 10:59 a.m. to ask for money from his account. However, when a teller told Stewart he did not have an account, Stewart threatened bank employees and left, walking west toward Wal-Mart.

Wale, a three-year veteran on the force who was assigned to the Road Division eight months ago, drove alongside Stewart and asked him to stop, according to the statement from Jones.

Stewart allegedly responded with an obscenity and kept walking, which prompted Wale to get out of his vehicle and try to physically stop him. Instead, according to Jones, Stewart pulled out a pair of scissors with one blade broken and slashed at Wale. The deputy was struck three times when he pulled his firearm and fired twice. At least one bullet struck Stewart in the abdomen and he died within minutes.

Wale sustained puncture wounds and slashes to his neck, forehead and mouth. He was transported by Acadian Ambulance to River Parishes General Hospital, where he received 22 stitches in his face and neck. He was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, an internal investigation is under way, with the results to be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office.

Prior to the recent incident, the last time a St. John Parish sheriff’s deputy was involved in a fatal shooting was January 1996. In that incident Deputy Barton Granier was killed along with his attacker.