GRAPHIC: Officer-involved shooting in Lake Charles streamed on Facebook Live

Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 at 11:02 PM CDT
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CORRECTION: Deputies first used non-lethal rounds in an attempt to subdue the man before lethal rounds were used.

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - One man is dead following an officer-involved shooting on Highland Street in south Lake Charles, authorities say.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the man was shot after charging at deputies with a machete in his hand.

Louisiana State Police, which is investigating the shooting, confirmed the deceased is Michael Torres, 35, of Lake Charles.

The incident was broadcast on Facebook Live, although only Facebook friends of Torres were able to see the stream.

Torres was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release from Kayla Vincent, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were dispatched to the scene around 11 a.m. to serve an arrest warrant for domestic abuse and child endangerment.

”Upon arrival at the home deputies were able to secure the child, who was located inside, and move him to a safe area away from the residence,” according to the news release. “Moments later, when deputies attempted to execute the warrant the suspect refused to comply with deputies commands. The suspect charged at deputies with a machete at which time deputies shot the suspect.”

Mancuso said he supports his deputies’ actions.

”This whole ordeal after we took the child and got the child to safety only happened in a matter of seconds,” Mancuso said. “And they had to make a decision, and I support the decision they made. As bad as it is and how much I wish it didn’t happen, I support the decision.”

”I’m not going to second guess these officers. I think they went through the steps. They verbally told him what they wanted him to do. They used non-lethal weapon, I mean, a non-lethal weapon and then he came running out of that house. He didn’t come walking out the house, he came running out that house and they decided he got close enough and they shot him. And I’m going to say it again, I support what they did.”

Prior to the shooting, Torres set up a phone in the window of the home and turned on Facebook Live.

The encounter was captured during the 24-minute video, although Torres steps out of the screen at the moment the shooting occurs.

KPLC is publishing an extended version here in order to provide context to the shooting for our viewers. However, we must warn you that the video is graphic and contains images and language that may be upsetting to viewers.

The video is a screen recording of the Facebook Live. Prior to the shooting, another person walks past the camera and briefly hugs Torres before walking out of the driveway. We have blurred his face in order to protect his identity. We have also blurred out any comments or Facebook names that may appear in the video, to protect the Facebook users’ identities.

In the first part of the video, Torres and another man can be heard in the background discussing what was transpiring. The video then shows Torres walking outside with a machete. The officers slowly approach him from the street, telling him he was being arrested and to drop the machete. As the deputies approach, they continue to tell him to drop the machete, while he yells back at them and refuses to drop the machete.

As the deputies get near him, one of them fires what the Sheriff’s Office says was a non-lethal beanbag at his leg. It’s at that point that Torres runs off screen. In a matter of seconds, the officers are seen backing up, then firing at Torres.

”The first two shots you see fired in the Facebook Live video are the less-than-lethal beanbag rounds fired in an attempt to disable the suspect,” Mancuso said in a statement. “What you don’t see in that video is the suspect retreating into his house and then seconds later charging at the deputies with the machete held out towards them. That is when the other officers fired lethal rounds. The officers immediately began providing first aid after the suspect was down and disarmed.”

KPLC has requested both dashcam and bodycam footage of the incident, which we will post when it is released.

Louisiana State Police have been asked to investigate the shooting. The officers are on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

”The preliminary investigation revealed CPSO deputies arrived at a residence located on Highland Street south of Lake Charles, in an attempt to serve an arrest warrant for 35-year-old Michael Torres of Lake Charles,” Trooper Derek Senegal said in a statement. “Torres was wanted for a domestic incident that occurred earlier this morning at the residence.”

“Deputies encountered Torres in the front yard of his residence holding a weapon. He was given numerous verbal commands to drop the weapon but Torres refused to comply. A less lethal bean bag impact round was used but was ineffective. During the course of the encounter, at least two CPSO deputies discharged their firearms striking Torres. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

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