Vidalia officer returns after shooting a suspect

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 1, 2009

VIDALIA — The Vidalia police officer who has been on leave since a shooting incident in September is back on the job

Investigator Randy Stockman has been off duty since Sept. 10, when he was placed on leave after accidentally discharging a weapon during an arrest and shooting himself in the ankle.

The Vidalia Police declined to discuss the matter at the time, and turned the investigation over to the Louisiana State Police.

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The VPD received the report from that investigation Wednesday, and the state police have cleared Stockman to return to work, Vidalia Police Chief Ronnie G. “Tapper” Hendricks said.

The suspect in the arrest, Vondell Hawkins, 20, was also wounded in the leg after the same bullet that struck Stockman grazed him on the leg.

“Basically, (Stockman) was trying to put his weapon up and hold (Hawkins) and get handcuffs at the same time when the gun went off,” Hendricks said.

Investigator Drew Harrison and Stockman were conducting an arrest of Hawkins at the Vidalia Police Department when Hawkins fled on foot from the two officers because he was aware of previous warrants for his arrest, Hendricks said.

Hawkins was in the process of being reapprehended in the 400 block of Cedar Street when the accidental shooting occurred.

Stockman had his duty weapon drawn to subdue the suspect, but no shots had been fired until the accidental discharge of the weapon, Hendricks said.

The report states that after grazing Hawkins’ leg, the bullet entered the right side of Stockman’s boot and exited the left inset.

The state police report also states that Hawkins later made a statement to investigators that the Vidalia Police never said they were going to shoot or kill him, Hendricks said.

The report states that Hawkins went on to tell the investigating officers that the shooting was an accident and that Stockman did not mean to shoot him, Hendricks said.

Along with being charged in relation to the incident and released on a $5,000 bond, Hawkins was rearrested by the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office three weeks later on theft charges and allegations that in an unrelated incident he threw a brick through a vehicle window and threatened the vehicle’s owner with a hammer.