The memorial for Reggie Doucet Jr. was held this past Sunday at North Monterey County High School where hundreds turned out to remember and grieve over the handsome 25-year-old college football star-turned-model and personal trainer, who was killed by an LAPD officer in the very early morning hours of January 14.
Last Friday word went around that Doucet’s family had hired attorney Jamon Hicks of The Cochran Firm—the law office founded by the late, great Johnny Cochran.
I spoke to Hicks on Monday at which time he told me that the firm will investigate the circumstances surrounding the young man’s death to determine whether or not a claim for damages will be filed against the LAPD. He said that although the investigation into Doucet’s killing is in its earliest stages, there are elements of the official story that he finds “counterintuitive” and troubling.
“There are things that concern me,” he said.
The LA Weekly has a more extensive account of that official story, but, in short, the following is a brief compilation of what the police and others say occurred:
Reggie Doucet a reportedly arrived home in a cab from a night of clubbing, then discovered he had no money on his person to pay for the cab rigde. He wanted to go inside his condo to retrieve the needed funds and had a loud, possibly drunken argument with the cabbie about it. At some point Doucet took off all his clothes with what is believed to be the off-kilter notion of proving to the cab driver that he wasn’t going to run off without paying. The disturbance grew, and several neighbors called the police.
The rest is from the official LAPD statement:
As the officers were responding to the call, additional citizens called to report a “415 man causing a disturbance.” Upon arrival the officers were directed and located the naked suspect, a male Black, 25- years old, behaving erratically. The officers attempted to speak and detain the suspect, however the suspect ran away and the officers followed the suspect on foot. The suspect ran to another location where he found his shorts and put them on. The officers tried again to talk and detain the suspect, who again ran to another apartment complex a very short distance away.
When the officers attempted to detain the suspect in the apartment complex doorway, the suspect immediately attacked the officers. During the fight the suspect aggressively punched both officers in the face and head. One officer, a male Black, 17 months with LAPD, shot the suspect to stop the attack. The second officer, a male Asian, 5 years with LAPD, was also physically battered and dazed during the incident. The Officers took the suspect into custody and immediately called for medical assistance.
Personnel from the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded and immediately transported the wounded suspect to a local hospital where he died as the result of his injuries.
The police statement was later revised to say that police were “fighting for their lives” and that Doucet was reaching for one of the officer’s service weapon.
Obviously, attempting to determine whether or not Doucet did or did not go for an officer’s gun will be crucial to any investigation.
Hicks says that, in addition to tracking down and interviewing witnesses, the legal firm is awaiting the toxicology reports on Reggie and the official autopsy, which will not be available for weeks. It is his understanding, said Hicks, that Doucet was shot twice. If that is indeed the case, the placement of the wounds will tell a great deal, he said.
Hicks said he is also bothered that the officers did not seem to be trained to find a better, less confrontative way to handle an obviously unarmed, but erratic and distressed person.
“I don’t understand what exigency caused them to escalate situation,” said Hicks. “Look, they can see he’s naked. So there can be no question of whether or not he has a weapon. It seems to me their concern should have been containment. But instead they cornered him until he had no way out.
“It’s things like this that concern me.”
Hicks told me that, thus far, he has discovered no notable prior run ins with the law for Doucet or indications that the young man was prone to violent behavior. He has mostly heard overwhelmingly good things about his clients’ dead son, which is one of the things, Hicks said, that bothers him.
“Of all the cases I’ve handled,” Jamon Hicks said, “Reggie Doucet stands out because he is one of the most loved people I’ve ever seen. I went to the event at the high school and the outpouring of just….love…was amazing.”
Hicks said that it will likely be necessary to actually file a lawsuit in order to get access certain kinds of information, like police reports.
In the meantime, the LAPPL—the police union—has posted several blog entries relating to the shooting. This is a clip from the most recent essay, posted Monday:
Last week, after initially fleeing from police officers, Doucet engaged them in violent, hand-to-hand combat, attempting to disarm at least one of two officers in what the officers described as a “fight for their lives.” When he grabbed for the officer’s gun after fighting with them, Doucet predetermined the tragic outcome of events.
In November 2010, Riverside police officer Ryan Bonaminio was reportedly killed with his own weapon. And only a few weeks ago, Rainier, Oregon Chief of Police Ralph Painter struggled with an “unarmed” suspect who used Painter’s own gun to kill him.
More to come on the case in coming weeks as information becomes available.