Jul 19, 2013 11:58 PM by Erin Steuber
Newly released court documents show a bank robbery suspect, shot and killed by a Lafayette Police officer last summer, was unarmed. A Grand Jury cleared the officer of any wrong doing in the case, and now we're learning more about why that officer fired his weapon.
This concerns the Thomas Helvik case. Police say he was responsible for at least five bank robberies statewide, including ones in Broussard and Lafayette. But it all came to an end after that bank robbery in Lafayette.
According to court documents there was a surveillance operation underway at banks throughout Lafayette. An unmarked vehicle was blocks away and was in pursuit, a pursuit that ended in gunfire.
This is the account presented to the Grand Jury, of the day bank robbery suspect Thomas Helvik was shot and killed.
The chase ended at a sugar cane field near Frank's Casing Crew off Verot School Road. Helvik's truck gets stuck on a fence and the officer stops his car right behind him. Seconds later Helvik throws the truck in reverse, coming within 29 feet of the officer. Helvik throws it in drive, and the officer begins yelling. The officer fires at Helvik's tires several times, missing. According to court documents, the officer says at that point he feared for workers in the pipe yard and aimed for Helvik, firing twice. The truck came to a stop. Helvik was dead.
State police investigated and found the officer was justified in using deadly force. The Grand Jury seemingly agreed, choosing not to indict the officer.
The autopsy revealed Helvik had cocaine in his system at the time of his death. Police searched his vehicle and say they found $930 in cash on the front seat and $3,150 in the center console. No gun was found in Helvik's car.
The case file also contained Helvik's criminal history. It shows he has criminal records in 5 states including Louisiana. His charges include battery, burglary, drug possesion, DUI and forgery. Helvik has served in prison twice and was out on probation.