Local woman remembers husband shot and killed by police in 1975; says his actions didn’t warrant death

Louisiana Network

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – This is the story of a fatal police shooting in Lafayette.

It took place on August 7, 1975.

In this exclusive interview, a Lafayette woman tells News 10 why she’s been suffering in silence for 45 years.

That morning, Ricky Nelson left to work his construction job but never returned home.

The Vietnam veteran and father of twin daughters had been married to his high school sweetheart for three years, his widow, Rose Broussard, said.  

“That was the love of my life,” Broussard, a Lafayette resident, said.  

News outlets covering the summer 1975 incident said officers confronted the construction crew working in downtown Lafayette and questioned Ricky’s brother, John. It turned physical and Ricky intervened.

An officer struck Ricky with his baton at which time Ricky grabbed the baton and hit the officer with it. Ricky was then fatally shot.  Broussard does not dispute the fact that her husband should not have grabbed the officer’s weapon.

Broussard said she was told by investigators that the police responded to a complaint about a woman being harassed.

“There was a white girl walking down the street and someone whistled from the job (site) so the woman called the police,” she told News 10.

Broussard said she has broken her silence over her husband’s killing because she deeply connects with those calling for justice in the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement.

She said it was Alton Sterling’s 2016 death in Baton Rouge that prompted her attention toward the use of excessive force by some police officers.

“This incident with George Floyd, it’s like I had to relive this again,” she said. “It broke my heart.”

Now a grandmother, Broussard said that she prays her children’s children will see better days than what’s happening now and they’ll never meet the same fate as Floyd and her husband.

Every detail of the day of Rickey Nelson’s killing is etched in her memory, she said. Especially the last morning he left their home.

“For some reason or another, I watched him from the time he pulled out of my driveway until I couldn’t see him anymore,” Broussard said.

She said the case against the two officers involved was brought to a grand jury that returned a no true bill clearing the officers.  “It just hurts me every time I hear of a situation like that. I suffer in silence,” Broussard said. “You might look happy, but no one knows what you go thru behind closed doors.”

The city would later settle a damage lawsuit Broussard.

Ricky Nelson was a boy scout and a 1967 graduate of Paul Breaux High School in Lafayette. 

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