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Man gets five years in deputy shootings

Author(s): JOE CYAN JR. Date: October 19, 2010 Section; South LA. & Business

A 31 -year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison Monday shortly after pleading guilty to shooting two narcotics detectives when they tried to execute a "no-knock" search warrant at his north Baton Rouge home in 2008. State District Judge Chip Moore also ordered Ellis Henry Jr. to be put on active supervised probation for five years after he is released from prison.

Henry allegedly fired nine shots at East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Office detectives from inside his home at 2569 73rd Ave., according to an affidavit of probable cause.

One deputy was hit in the knee, and another was shot in the calf. That deputy also was struck in the chest but was wearing a bullet-proof vest, sheriffs officials said after the shooting about midnight Aug. 5, 2008.

Henry initially was booked on six counts of attempted first-degree murder because six deputies involved in the execution of the search warrant were in his line of fire.

"You could have killed two people," Moore said of the two deputies Henry shot. "You probably could have killed more than that."

The judge said two weapons - a 9 mm handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle - seized during the search are to be forfeited and/or destroyed.

Moore noted that a 70-round magazine of ammunition also was found in Henry's home.

"That's something you have in Vietnam, not inside your house," the judge told Henry. "We're not in a war here. Seems like we are."

Henry, who declined Moore's invitation to address the court, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault upon a police officer with a firearm.

He was indicted last year on two counts of attempted second-degree murder, one count of illegal use of weapons and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office had thoroughly reviewed the case in preparation for a trial that was supposed to start Monday.

"We believe this was the best outcome," he said, noting that Henry is a first-time offender and that there were some inconsistencies in the statements of lay witnesses.

Damico said after court that Henry and his fiancee thought the detectives were burglars.

"He did not know it was police officers breaking down his door," Damico added.

Henry's fiancee, Crystal Magee, said after the shooting that the men were dressed in plain clothes, did not knock and did not identify themselves until after shots were fired.

Sheriffs officials disputed those statements, saying after the shooting that the deputies wore vests with "sheriff written on them in yellow, shouted "search warrant" and "Sheriffs Office" while they knocked on the door with a battering ram, and used emergency lights from two patrol vehicles to illuminate the house.

"We had some conflicting testimony that wasn't the case," Damico said.

Damico added that the Sheriffs Office and Henry could have handled the situation better.

The affidavit of probable cause says detectives obtained the no-knock search warrant after a confidential informant bought suspected crack cocaine from Henry.

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