No indictment in shooting of suspect in Tallulah

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2001

[05/09/01] A Madison Parish grand jury has declined to file charges against a former Tallulah reserve police officer involved in the Thanksgiving Day shooting death of a man evading arrest.

Tim Scream of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office said the case against Larry Mahoney was presented to jurors Friday and the panel said there was not enough evidence to send Mahoney to trial.

“It takes nine out of 12 to agree to indict and they couldn’t do it,” he said.

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According to investigators’ reports, Mahoney and several other officers were attempting to arrest Melvin Guy, who was 23, on outstanding warrants when they saw him fleeing from his aunt’s Tallulah apartment.

During the pursuit that followed, shots were fired, and Guy was hit in the back with what a coroner’s report identified as one round of buckshot.

Guy, who was unarmed, had been evading police for about five months. He was wanted on a warrant for simple escape from the Madison Parish Jail. Other charges against him included resisting police, possession of a firearm by a felon, assault and battery and indecency with a child.

Scream said the jurors could have indicted Mahoney, who has not been arrested, on a manslaughter, murder or negligent homicide charge.

He said jurors also couldn’t agree to dismiss or no bill the case. “We have the option of presenting the case again when the next grand jury meets in September, but we haven’t made a final decision on that,” Scream said.

Samuel Thomas of Tallulah, the attorney representing the Guy family in a $16 million lawsuit against the City of Tallulah and the police department, said his clients would like justice in the case.

“He (Guy) was running away so it’s not like they felt their lives were threatened,” Thomas said.

He added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the grand jury vote had fallen along racial lines. Guy was black and Mahoney is white.

He said Mahoney, identified by witnesses and family members as the person who fired the fatal shot, was an auxiliary police officer who wasn’t on duty as a policeman at the time of the shooting.

The case was investigated by Louisiana State Police.

Thomas said Mahoney, a Tallulah firefighter who occasionally worked as a relief officer, has never been to the police academy, which is a requirement for law enforcement in Louisiana, and was using his personal gun the day Guy was shot.

Mahoney and two other officers involved in the shooting have been suspended pending resolution.

Thomas said he hopes the outcome will be different if the case is presented to the September grand jury.

“I am hopeful from the standpoint that I want to believe in the judicial system,” he said.

The civil suit brought by Guy’s family is scheduled for trial at the end of the year.