Louisiana State Police Take Over Washington Investigation

January 2, 2007
Reported by Rhonda Kitchens

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff, Tony Mancuso says, "I met with the family yesterday and told them what we felt like. We felt like, at the time, based on the evidence that we had that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound."

Mancuso says that's the finding following an autopsy conducted by the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office.

"I find this with my total and complete examination," says Dr. Terry Welke, "this is a self-inflicted gunshot wound, contact gunshot wound, to the chest."

"Now we certainly," says Mancuso, "and let me explain, we certainly have a long way to go to look at other possibilities."

Mancuso says investigators were in the process of checking into phone, business and personal records surrounding the life and death of Gerald Washington.

"It's a holiday weekend. That information isn't going anywhere and we can't just readily get that today."

Causing a rift between sheriff's department investigators and Washington's grief stricken family.

"I think the family wants answers now," says Mancuso, "and I can't give them answers, none other than what the facts show us and I offered at the time last night if they would like an outside agency, State Police, that I would turn it over to them. They said no, I'm comfortable with you and I said ok."

But Tuesday time ran out, as family members asked Mancuso to do as he offered and turn his investigation over to State Police.

Mancuso says, "I have confidence in the men and women that work here, 100%, I really do and I trust they're always going to do the right thing. Evidently in this case the family has reservations and I'm going to respect that."

Anyone with information in the case is now asked to contact Louisiana State Police at 491-2929.