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Official: Trooper under investigation dies, apparent suicide

December 30, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2020 file photo, a heavy Louisiana State Police presence is seen at the New Chapel Hill Baptist Church during funeral services for Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth in West Monroe, La. An Associated Press review of thousands of records has revealed multiple cases when Louisiana State troopers and some of their supervisors exchanged emails with casual, demeaning uses of the n-word. All of it comes against the backdrop of a federal civil rights investigation over the in-custody death of a Black motorist that has roiled the state's premier law enforcement agency and led to an abrupt change in its leadership. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2020 file photo, a heavy Louisiana State Police presence is seen at the New Chapel Hill Baptist Church during funeral services for Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth in West Monroe, La. An Associated Press review of thousands of records has revealed multiple cases when Louisiana State troopers and some of their supervisors exchanged emails with casual, demeaning uses of the n-word. All of it comes against the backdrop of a federal civil rights investigation over the in-custody death of a Black motorist that has roiled the state's premier law enforcement agency and led to an abrupt change in its leadership. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

A Louisiana State Police trooper died Wednesday in an apparent suicide as his colleagues were searching his home as part of a criminal investigation, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Three law enforcement officials familiar with the matter said Senior Trooper August “Gus” McKay shot himself after authorities arrived at his Washington Parish home. The officials were not authorized to discuss McKay’s death and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

State Police Superintendent Col. Lamar Davis sent an email to troopers advising them of McKay’s death and noting he was under criminal investigation at the time but the agency declined to comment further on specifics of either the death or the probe.

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“In this time of need, please join me in prayer for Trooper McKay, his family, and his colleagues throughout the LSP family,” Davis wrote.

The Washington Parish Coroner’s Office said it was investigating the cause and manner of death.

McKay made headlines this year after State Police apologized for failing to discipline him after his Apple Watch recorded him using a racial slur and he inadvertently forwarded it to a Black colleague.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was “unacceptable” State Police failed to discipline McKay in the 2017 incident, adding he was “appalled that such disgusting language was used by a Louisiana State Police trooper.”

McKay told investigators at the time that “the stars couldn’t have lined up any worse. ... It would be like me accidentally sending a picture of my naked wife to someone.”

State Police brass said McKay’s use of a racial slur was an isolated incident. But an AP investigation found a dozen more instances over a three-year period in which employees forwarded racist emails on their official accounts with subject lines like “PROUD TO BE WHITE,” or demeaned minority colleagues with names including “Hershey’s Kiss,” “Django” and “Egg Roll.”