A woman who claimed she acted in self-defense when she shot her neighbor outside her Reserve home in 2015 was acquitted at trial Thursday.
A jury in St. John the Baptist Parish deliberated for 15 minutes before finding Tyranika Williams 27, not guilty on charges of aggravated battery in the shooting of Dwayne Cook on Oct. 8.
On the night of the shooting, Cooks - who survived the shooting - testified that his neighbor, Williams, came out of her house about 11 p.m. and shot him in the chest after he approached her and asked her for a ride to get cigarettes, according to a statement from Williams' attorney, Michael Smith.
Williams, then 24, told police that she had been walking out to her car to get her calculator to do her homework and was carrying a 9mm handgun because she was afraid of going out at night by herself. While she was looking in her trunk, Williams said she felt someone grab her on her side and say, “I been looking for you.”
Startled, Williams turned around and backed away while pointing the gun at Cook, who she said she didn’t recognize as her neighbor at the time. Cook continued to approach her, Williams said, and she shot him once. Williams testified that she heard Cook say, “You need to take me to the hospital,” but said she ran to her backyard, threw the gun and hid in her grandmother’s closet, crying, until deputies arrived at the scene.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Williams claimed she had acted in self-defense, and was not arrested or charged initially. In the state of Louisiana, the use of lethal force is justified if the person acting in self-defense had reason to believe their life was in imminent danger.
After Cooks was released on Oct. 27, 2015, he gave a statement to both a detective on the case as well as St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut, and Williams was eventually charged with aggravated battery by shooting.
Medical records showed Cooks had cocaine and alcohol in his system on the night he was shot. During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Leandre Millet argued that it hadn’t been reasonable or necessary for Williams to shoot Cooks, who was unarmed at the time, from ten feet away, regardless whether he was intoxicated or not, according to the statement from Smith.
Smith argued at trial that Cooks was “totally out of his mind” and did not know what he was doing when he approached Williams, telling the jury “a woman doesn’t need to wait for a man to hurt her before she can defend herself.”