By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 10, 2020

CLINTON, La. (AP) - A Louisiana grand jury declined Tuesday to charge a sheriff’s deputy in the fatal shooting of a man who stole chicken and eggs from a convenience store.

The jury declined to charge East Feliciana Parish Deputy Glenn Sims Sr. with second-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Christopher Whitfield, news outlets reported.

Two deputies responded to a call from a convenience store owner in October who said a man had broken into the outdoor cooler and stolen some food.

Officials said Sims chased Whitfield and fired a warning shot into the ground. When he caught up to Whitfield, he grabbed the back of his hoodie and the pair scuffled on the ground, officials said. Authorities said Sims was attempting to holster the weapon when Whitfield hit the gun and it went off. He was fatally struck in the lower back.

Sims has been on leave since the shooting. East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis previously said Sims shot Whitfield accidentally.

Whitfield’s family said the shooting was unjust because Whitfield wasn’t a danger to deputies since he wasn’t armed and was running away. The family also said Whitfield had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and authorities, including Sims, were aware of Whitfield’s struggles.

Sims was previously convicted of at least three crimes, including a 2004 battery conviction for physically assaulting his girlfriend over several years, The Advocate reported, citing court documents.

Travis said just after the shooting that he wasn’t aware of Sims’ past convictions because they happened before he took office in 2016.

“The conduct that we have uncovered in the past few days concerns me greatly, and I pledge to East Feliciana Parish that we will conduct a full review of these matters and take appropriate action,” Travis said at the time.

It’s unclear whether Sims will be reinstated.

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