By Mark Waller; East Jefferson bureau December 29, 2000 Friday Copyright 2000 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) December 29, 2000 Friday
(JEFFERSON, La.) -- A Jefferson man was shot in the stomach early Thursday after punching a Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop in River Ridge, authorities said.
Investigators on Thursday were trying to determine whether deputy David Chaplain or Castadel Ruffin pulled the trigger on the officer's 9 mm gun while the two scuffled on the ground, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Col. Robert Garner.
But Garner said Chaplain, in defending himself, appeared to have acted in accordance with Sheriff's Office policies. He said Chaplain suffered some bruises and scrapes.
Ruffin, 47, was in serious but stable condition at Ochsner Foundation Hospital on Thursday.
When Ruffin is released from the hospital, Garner said, deputies plan to book him with attempted murder of a police officer and possession of a rock of crack cocaine. Garner said detectives found the drug on the ground near the site of the struggle.
Sheriff's deputies were searching Thursday for three unidentified people who were with Ruffin in the black late-model pickup that had been pulled over by Chaplain. When the fight began, the others fled in the truck.
The fight occurred about 1:40 a.m. near the intersection of Bengal Road and Jefferson Highway.
Chaplain stopped a Dodge extended-cab pickup after noticing that it had no license plate.
Two people got out of the truck. One of them appeared to be holding a license plate and told the deputy he hadn't affixed it to the vehicle because of recent repairs.
Then Chaplain spotted two other people ducking inside the truck, and ordered them out, "for his protection," Garner said.
Chaplain began searching the passengers for weapons when he noticed Ruffin trying to place an envelope in the truck.
That's when Ruffin punched Chaplain in the face, Garner said.
Chaplain chased Ruffin and tackled him. While the two struggled on the ground, Ruffin knocked away the officer's baton and ripped his radio off of his shoulder, Garner said. Ruffin, who Garner said did not appear to be armed, also tried to grab Chaplain's gun.
The gun discharged once, Garner said, wounding Ruffin. By then, Ruffin's companions, two men and one woman, had sped off in the truck.