DENHAM SPRINGS — New questions are emerging after a deadly shooting on Juban Rd. near Brown Rd. in Denham Springs on August 30.
Joshua Jermaine Stewart, 35, died a day after that shooting. Sources tell UWK that the shooting appears to stem from a road rage incident. But there are few answers as to what led to the deadly confrontation.
With mounting questions and no charges, Stewart’s family has now retained civil rights attorney Ronald Haley, who is speaking out on the family’s behalf.
“Contact between the vehicles probably led to this”
Following the late afternoon shooting, investigators found what appears to be marks on the back passenger side of Stewart’s vehicle.
“I think when you look at the damage done to (Stewart’s vehicle), there was a collision between the two cars,” Haley told UWK. “The vehicle my client was driving is a white SUV, and the vehicle driven by the shooter was a dark-colored truck. So you see the damage to the passenger rear bumper; there obviously was some sort of contact between the two.”
Haley points out that the shooter’s truck was in the right lane of traffic, and Stewart’s vehicle was in opposite lane. He believes that’s proof that “something had to happen.”
There have been no witnesses come forward to tell investigators what happened before shots were fired.
“I don’t know if my client was trying to pass him, and the gentleman just did not allow him to pass,” Haley points out. “You know some of those scenarios where I’m trying to pass, I gas it up, and I slow down, and I’m gassing up. I don’t know if those types of games were being played. I don’t know if the driver of the truck was riding my client’s bumper, and he moved over so that he could pass. I’m not sure, but certainly, the contact between the vehicles probably led to this.”
Victim shot three times
After the vehicles made contact, the drivers stopped at the intersection of Juban Rd. and Brown Rd. in Livingston Parish. Haley argues that this is typical when there is any sort of accident, and he believes that Stewart may have been trying to assess the damage and possibly exchange insurance or contact information with the other driver.
According to sources, UWK first reported that Stewart went to the shooter’s vehicle and pulled on the door handle, which prompted him to shoot at Stewart. However, according to Haley, while witnesses didn’t see what happened on the road, they did see the aftermath.
Haley says that two witnesses saw Stewart leave his vehicle with his hands up, pointing at the damage to his vehicle.
“We are contending that the narrative that was put out there that my client tried to open the person’s door is simply not true. It’s simply not true based on independent eyewitness statements that said it didn’t happen,” Haley said. “According to the witness statements, my client got out of the car with his hands up and was pointing in the direction of his vehicle. That’s when the shooter opened fire, shooting him at least three times based on the independent autopsy that my client’s family received: one in the wrist, one in the stomach, and one in the chest.”
Haley and the family want answers as to exactly when Stewart was shot and what led up to the violent exchange.
“As far as the bullets that hit the vehicle, it appears that the shot was fired at an angle and not straight on, like the shots that hit my client. So, the family is wondering, did the person shoot at my client from his vehicle.”
Based on the autopsy report, there was no soot from the gunshots in Stewart’s wounds. According to Haley, this indicates that there was some distance between the shooter and Stewart.
More than two months following the deadly shooting, there have been no arrests or charges in the case. Haley says the person who shot Stewart is a male in his early 20s.
Haley believes the investigation into the shooting was flawed from the beginning and that the shooter’s family was allowed to “insert themselves into the crime scene.”
“We were told by the witnesses that they were allowed to go beyond the ropes,” Haley said. “That they were allowed around his vehicle, and inside of his vehicle. Those things are quite highly inappropriate if those things did happen.”
The family still has many unanswered questions like why the shooter was able to leave the crime scene without being detained. Haley emphasized that letting a potential criminal leave a scene of a potential homicide is not how criminal investigations typically occur.
“He chose to take another man’s life”
The case is ongoing. Haley and the family plan to hold a news conference later this week about their frustrations with the investigation.
They believe that no matter what transpired, there were other ways to handle the problem on the road.
“You’re allowed to defend yourself. You are allowed to use deadly force in this country, however, that force must be reasonable. If my client is not armed with any weapons, there’s no justification for this young man to pull his gun out and shoot him. Furthermore, this young man was in this truck if he was truly in fear of his life, he could have just driven off. But, no he chose to take another man’s life and up to this point, he’s gotten away with it.”
UWK reached out to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office with the following questions:
- Why was the shooter permitted to leave the scene when there was a potential homicide?
- When was a homicide ruled out by deputies?
- Why was the shooter’s family permitted on the scene and allowed to look through evidence?
- Have any charges been pressed against the shooter?
- Have witnesses given account of what happened that evening?
They responded with the following:
Sheriff Jason Ard says, “After a thorough examination of the evidence & witness statements, our investigation-pending the autopsy report-points to this being a case of road rage. Our investigation leads us to believe the shots fired were done so in self defense. There have been no charges filed against the shooter at this time.” If you have information on this case and have yet to come forward, please contact the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office at (225) 686-2241 x1.