Grand jury indicts Colfax policeman in slaying case

 

Town Talk staff • August 13, 2009

A Colfax Police Officer was indicted Wednesday in connection with a July fatal shooting while he was on duty.

Stephen Merchant turned himself in to State Police at the Grant Parish Detention Center.

A Grant Parish Grand Jury Wednesday determined there was enough evidence that the 28-year-old Merchant could be tried for manslaughter in connection with the July 24 shooting death of Harold Phillips.

According to the Grant Parish District Attorney’s Office, the 54-year-old Phillips was shot five times as he tried to run from Merchant. The officer was on patrol for the Colfax Police Department when he came upon an altercation between a man and a woman.

The shooting happened around 2:45 p.m., according to a State Police release. Investigators said that Merchant witnessed an altercation between Phillips and an unidentified person on Chester Street. As Merchant approached the two Phillips ran.

The pursuit led Merchant to Ash Street where there was a physical altercation between the two, according to the State Police release. Phillips was transported to Rapides Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations/Alexandria Field Office investigated the incident and forwarded their investigation to the Grant Parish DAs office who then presented the case to the Grand Jury.

A manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

“It is our intention to show at trial that this was not self defense nor an accidental shooting,” Grant Parish District Attorney Jay Lemoine said.

Merchant is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 11. His trial date will likely be set during that hearing.