LC police officer cleared in shooting death

April 6, 2007
Reported by Pam Dixon

A Lake Charles police officer who shot and killed an unarmed mentally ill man will not be prosecuted. A Calcasieu Parish grand jury met this week to review the case and declined to indict 38 year old Corporal Kimberly Almirall in the October shooting death of Trent Buckins. As KPLC's Pam Dixon reports, the decision leaves Buckins' relatives disappointed in the justice system.

29 year old Trent Buckins was shot and killed by Lake Charles police Corporal Kimberly Almirall during a struggle with several officers who were trying to get him to leave. The shooting happened October 12, 2006, in outside Reynaud Middle School. Buckins' great aunt, Willie Coleman, says he had dropped a box of his belongings. Coleman says, "Someone was trying to help him and he probably said, 'No, no, no, no.' He liked everything straight himself and that's what the whole thing was, and then he went into seizures."

Almirall shot Buckins after he allegedly lunged at her gun. Coleman says her mentally ill godchild wouldn't have hurt anyone. Coleman says, "Trent was not going to harm anyone. He didn't have a weapon. For the young lady not to be charged with anything is an outrage and I'm very upset."

Coleman says Lake Charles police should have received more training on how to deal with the mentally ill years ago after another officer shot and killed a mentally ill man in the Chateau du Lac high rise in November 2004.

Coleman says Buckins was autistic and had the mind of a child, and the police department knew of his mental illness because of previous arrests.

Three city councilmen, who asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate months ago, have not received a reply yet. Councilman A.B. Franklin says the law needs to change if police are allowed to shoot to kill an unarmed man who reaches for a gun. District Attorney John DeRosier says he may make the findings of the investigation public as early as Monday. Since Buckins' death, the Lake Charles Police Department has updated its training programs on how to deal with the mentally ill.