Sheriff: Deputies acted appropriately during fatal confrontation

Published 7:29 pm Monday, July 7, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LAPLACE — Louisiana State Police are investigating the death of a LaPlace man who died while in custody of St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies early Saturday.

St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre said although the result of the case is tragic, deputies acted in accordance with protocol during the struggle.

“I feel my officers acted appropriately, but once an officer is involved, I bring in another agency to investigate independently,” Tregre said. “In this case, it is the Louisiana State Police.”

Tregre said deputy Anthony Preyan has been placed on paid leave following the altercation.

Trooper Evan Harrell of the Louisiana State Police said it is common for state police to investigate such cases, adding from what he has seen and read of the case, there doesn’t appear to be any issues. State Police have not filed charges against anyone involved in the case, which began when deputies responded to a residence at 243 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace at 1:54 a.m. Saturday following a disturbance report.

Harrell said residents identified Ennis Labaux, 37, as the reason for the call. When deputies questioned Labaux, the report indicates, he became combative and assaulted a deputy.

A struggle ensued, and Labaux was eventually put in handcuffs. According to Harrell, Labaux continued to struggle with deputies after being handcuffed and would not follow deputies’ commands. Deputies tried to secure Labaux’s legs when he stopped breathing, Harrell said, adding deputies immediately started performing CPR before EMS personnel arrived.

Labaux was transferred to River Parishes Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A deputy was also taken to the hospital as a result of the altercation.

Labaux’s cause of death will be determined by an autopsy, and Harrell said investigators are waiting for those results before concluding their findings.

According to Harrell, family members told authorities Labaux had threatened members of his family late Friday night/early Saturday morning and at one point was disarmed by a member of his family before deputies arrived on the scene.

Harrell said Labaux was released from River Parishes Hospital 20 minutes prior to the altercation he started with family members, adding Labaux was having trouble breathing before the altercation.