LIVINGSTON -- A Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office employee who fatally shot a man while off-duty will not face criminal charges, according to District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.
An investigation launched by Louisiana State Police last December determined that Caleb Browning, an LPSO deputy, acted “in self-defense” when he fatally shot 30-year-old Aaron Sparkman, of Greensburg.
According to Perrilloux and the LSP report, the altercation occurred on Browning’s property after “he was physically attacked by an individual with a weapon.” Browning then “engaged his legal right to protect himself, his property, and others who might have been endangered.”
“There will be no criminal charges brought against a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office employee who shot and killed an individual who came to his home while off duty and threatened him,” Perrilloux said in a press release issued Tuesday.
“In this case, Mr. Browning was at his home when Mr. Sparkman arrived unannounced and threatened him while armed with a handgun then physically attacked Mr. Browning. It is clear that Browning’s actions were reasonable and necessary to protect himself.”
The incident took place a little before 1 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2019, when deputies were called to a Watson residence in response to an altercation. Multiple gunshots were exchanged during the altercation, Perrilloux’s release stated, with several hitting Sparkman, who was pronounced dead on scene.
At the time, Browning was said to have suffered a “serious but non-life threatening” injury that required treatment at a local hospital.
Since Browning was an LPSO employee, the investigation was turned over to Louisiana State Police, which Perrilloux said conducted “a very thorough and complete investigation.” According to Perrilloux, LSP detectives examined witness statements, physical evidence, phone records, and video surveillance before determining that Browning’s action was “in self-defense” and “completely justifiable.”
According to the LSP report, Sparkman armed himself and went to Browning’s home, “without authority,” in order to confront Browning and Brandi Hicks, who LSP referred to as Sparkman’s “estranged girlfriend” with whom he shared a 3-year-old child.
A review of cell phone records showed investigators that Sparkman was upset that Hicks was not coming home that evening and refusing to respond to his text messages.
Sparkman arrived at Browning’s home about 30 minutes after leaving his home in St. Helena Parish, investigators said. Since Browning’s residence is gated with a long winding drive several hundred feet long, investigators said Sparkman parked his vehicle at the gate, left his 3-year old child in the vehicle, and went through the woods to gain access to the residence.
State Police viewed surveillance cameras that captured the entire confrontation from different angles. The videos first show Sparkman emerging from a wooded area, adjacent to the home, with a gun pointed at Browning. Although there is no audio, both Browning and Hicks told investigators that Sparkman fired several shots as he approached the residence through the woods, which was corroborated by the finding of six fired 40 cal. cartridges at the edge of the wooded area.
Video showed that both men pointed their guns at each other as Sparkman approached Browning, who was standing in his driveway. As Sparkman drew closer, videos showed that he discharged his weapon while swinging toward and striking Browning’s head.
Browning then discharged several close-range shots as the two men wrestled each other and exchanged shots, and both were struck by the other person’s gunfire: Browning received a “severe” leg wound while Sparkman’s injuries proved fatal.
Ballistics evidence collected at the scene revealed two fired 40 caliber cartridges that were found by Sparkman’s body and consistent with his weapon. Detectives also found eight fired 9mm cartridge cases that matched the weapon owned by Browning.
An autopsy revealed that Sparkman was struck six times while Browning was struck once. Blood drawn from Sparkman showed a blood alcohol content level of .117g% and no drugs. Browning’s medical records indicated that he did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system.
Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard released a statement following Perrilloux’s announcement, saying that the deputy remains “on leave.”
“[Louisiana State Police and the District Attorney] have completed a review of this case. I have reviewed the facts [and] the findings of the LSP [and] the DA. My deputy works in our Information Technology (IT) Division. He does not have an enforcement role. He was off-duty at the time of this incident.
“My employee was simply exercising his 2nd Amendment right to defend himself, his guest [and] his property. It’s a tragedy that one young man lost his life. But, without my deputy’s actions that night, more people could have died. This deputy remains on leave recovering from the serious injuries he received that night.”