Four Louisiana officers have been charged with first-degree murder in the 2016 death of Lamar Smith, a man with mental illness.

Smith, 61, was shot and killed by Covington officers as he attempted to escape while he was in the custody of a probation officer.

On Wednesday, a grand jury decided not to indict the officers with a second-degree murder charge and first-degree manslaughter, but indicted them with charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, two counts of use of a dangerous weapon in connection with the shooting, tampering with evidence and tampering with public records. All four officers are accused of working with Smith to kill him.

The incident followed a probable cause hearing. An autopsy found the murder weapon was Smith’s AK-47 assault rifle. He died at a local hospital. His family and neighbors claimed he was not armed and the officers accused of shooting him.

Earlier, the Covington Police Department had made headlines after starting the hashtag #FreeLamar. It started with Covington Police Chief Phillip Gaskins’ statement on the murder charges and ended up as something of a recruitment tool for Covington police.

#FreeLamar started trending in Covington on Tuesday. Several videos have since made the rounds. We’ll have a full rundown of those below. The full coverage of #FreeLamar will appear in our next issue. Posted by Covington Police Department on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can’t play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don’t insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the “report abuse” button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don’t use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don’t say anything in a way you wouldn’t want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don’t repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That’s spam and it isn’t allowed.

• Don’t use all capital letters. That’s akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the “report abuse” button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won’t and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.