SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – After more than four years of delays, the capital murder trial of the man accused in the August 2015 death of Shreveport Police Officer Thomas LaValley is officially set to begin Thursday morning, according to Caddo Parish Clerk of Court Mike Spence.
Grover Cannon, 31, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Officer LaValley as he responded to a domestic disturbance call in the 3500 block of Del Rio Street in the Queensborough neighborhood.
This will be the third trial date this year for Cannon. The first was scrapped on the day it was set to begin in January, after a motion for a change of venue for jury selection due was filed by defense attorneys due to publicity following shooting the death of SPD Officer Chatéri Payne, just five days before Cannon’s trial was set to kick off .
In that motion, Cannon’s lawyers claimed vast media coverage of Payne’s death would prejudice a local jury against Cannon, and on Feb. 19, 2019, presiding Judge Ramona Emmanuel signed an order upholding the motion.
The 19th Judicial District Court stepped up and volunteered to provide the venue for jury selection.
But, jury selection was halted three weeks into the second trial, which began on March 25 in Baton Rouge, after the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld a defense motion claiming jury selection was unfair because people aged 18-to-26 were not in the jury pool.
Baton Rouge resolved the jury issue, and on Oct. 17, 2019, a new round of jury selection commenced in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.
Thomas LaValley’s best friend Chris Redford says this process is a long time coming.
“It’s been a long, long process, frustrating process, more so for the family, but it’s just been a frustrating process for everybody,” Redford said.
“You get so close, then pulled back and then so close, then pulled back, and then I don’t know for the last four years you just wonder who is the victim. Thomas or the monster who killed him.”
On Tuesday, selection of 12 jurors and four alternate jurors was completed. They were sworn in on Wednesday morning, placed under the rules of sequestration in Baton Rouge, and are now being transported by bus to Caddo Parish for the duration of the trial.
The litigation portion of the trial will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday in Caddo Parish Court, exactly four weeks from the day jury selection began.
“Thomas was, you can’t really describe Thomas. Just a great great guy, he would have done anything for anything one and wouldn’t even wanted anything back, he was the type of friend everybody needed and everybody deserved to have,” Redford said.
“It’s nice to know that the process is starting and that we will see justice, sooner then later.”
Cannon faces the death penalty if convicted.