Tears flow as prosecution plays recordings of last moment of slain cop’s life

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Testimony continued Friday in the second day of the first-degree murder trial of Grover Cannon, who is accused in the August 2015 death of Shreveport Officer Thomas LaValley.

LaValley was shot multiple times inside a house in the 3700 block of Del Rio Street in Shreveport’s Queensborough neighborhood, after responding to a suspicious person call.

On Friday morning, jurors heard from three officers who were on duty the night of the killing as the prosecution established where LaValley’s body was lying in the house, how long it took for backup to get there, and where the officers went when they first arrived on the scene.

On cross-examination by Cannon’s defense team, two of the officers testified that they did not see anyone running from the home or the area of Del Rio street.

In his opening statement Thursday, defense attorney Dwight Doskey told the jury that in the course of the trial, he would show that his client did not kill LaValley and that it was a case of mistaken identity.

Jurors also heard recordings from LaValley’s body mic – and the intercom mic when the body mic didn’t work – as they played out the last moments of the young officer’s life.

As the tape played, a horrified courtroom that included Jackie LaValley, the victim’s mother, listened as LaValley went to the door, banged on it loudly and then stepped inside, where an abrupt and loud barrage of gunfire erupted, causing many listeners, including the jury, to recoil.

The gunfire was followed by LaValley’s fading voice speaking into the mic on his chest, asking for help, saying he had been hit. But at the precise moment LaValley’s voice was heard, three shots were fired.

And then, silence.

When the lights were turned back on, people throughout the courtroom, men and women alike, including some of the jurors, wiped tears from their eyes. Only Jackie LaValley remained stoic, clinging to her only son now, Thomas’ brother, who sat next to her, his wife and the friends who accompanied her to Shreveport from her home in St. Amant, La. to witness the trial.

The recording was repeated five more times, as lead prosecutor Ed Blewer described what was happening at each moment of the recording.

In his opening statement, Blewer said LaValley’s injuries from the original gunfire were non-lethal, even one to his face, which went through his left eye. It was one of those three final shots that was the kill shot, Blewer first explained during his opening arguments.

Following the recording and examination of the police officer brought in to explain the technical aspects, Edward Flakes was called to testify.

Flakes, who Blewer described as the longtime husband/boyfriend and father of Latonya Cannon’s child. Latonya Cannon is Grover Cannon’s sister with whom he shares a child. Flakes was the last person to see Cannon inside the Del Rio house where LaValley died.

Latonya Cannon, her child and Ramona Cannon had left the home and gone to a neighbor’s house across the street after Grover Cannon allegedly slashed the tires on their cars and threatened them.

Flakes testified that Cannon told his mother, “If you call the police, I’m killing him and everyone in this house.”

Later in the afternoon, that neighbor, Nichelle George, whose home the family fled to, testified she had made the 911 call asking for police to come because Cannon was threatening his family.

Flakes said he only left the home after Latonya Cannon had texted him that the police had been called. When LaValley arrived, Flakes was standing outside the house and said the officer first thought he was the suspect and asked to see his hands. LaValley then pulled out his gun, Flakes said, but holstered it quickly when the women assured him Flakes was not the suspect.

According to George’s testimony, when LaValley spoke with her and Latonya, she told LaValley not to go into the house until backup arrived, but he went in anyway.

Moments later, George said, it was over. And though they heard sirens in the neighborhood, Shreveport Fire Department ambulances weren’t on Del Rio. That’s when her husband, Dennis, called 911 again.

The first officer on the scene was Cpl. Amanda Futch, who went into the house and stood guard over LaValley until other police and first responders arrived.

Futch testified later in the afternoon, and a recording of her yelling, “LaValley, stay with me,” was somehow picked up on LaValley’s body mic, which started working. Chaos ensued as other officers arrived. Futch said Sgt. Harvey arrived next and ordered Futch to continue to keep watch over LaValley until EMTs showed up and began organizing other officers. As this was happening, Futch again was heard screaming, “LaValley, LaValley, LaValley…”

Prosecutors asked Futch to lay down on the floor before the jury to show them the position LaValley was in when she found him.

The trial is expected to continue into the weekend, as the jurors are from Baton Rouge and must remain sequestered for the duration of the trial.

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