have arrested the wife of a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sergeant for her
Waggaman, LA – Jefferson Parish
Sheriff’s Sergeant Troy Smith died on June 24, approximately one week after he
was shot in the head in his bedroom on Father’s Day.
His wife, 35-year-old Shantel Wagner,
was arrested for second-degree murder on Wednesday, WGNO
incident occurred at approximately 11:25 p.m. on June 17, when Wagner called
911 to report that 44-year-old Sgt. Smith had tried to commit suicide by
shooting himself in the head.
The father-of-two was rushed to a
local hospital, but succumbed to his injuries seven days later, The
"Everybody was in
disbelief," Sgt. Smith’s longtime friend and former classmate Henry Latten
told The Times-Picayune. "None of this sat right with us."
Based on forensic evidence and
interviews, investigators determined that Sgt. Smith’s gunshot wound was not
self-inflicted and obtained a warrant for Wagner’s arrest, Jefferson County
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jason Rivarde told The Times-Picayune.
“We knew the truth would come out,”
the sergeant’s longtime friend, retired New Orleans Police Captain Bruce Little
Sgt. Smith’s lifelong dream was to
become a law enforcement officer, Latten recalled.
"Troy's wanted to be a police
officer since we were in the ninth grade. We used to call him
Tackleberry," Latten said, referring to the highly energetic officer in
the “Police Academy” movies.
Capt. Little said that Sgt. Smith,
who joined the New Orleans Police Department in 1995, was the “poster boy” for
During his time with the New Orleans
PD, he was a bomb technician and a SWAT team member.
In 2011, he began working for Tulane
University and also started training other law enforcement officers in
defensive tactics and officer survival, Orleans Levee District Police Chief
Kerry Najolia told The Times-Picayune.
Chief Najolia, former Commander of
the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Academy, said that he recruited
Sgt. Smith to become an instructor at the training facility in 2013.
Sgt. Smith accepted the position and
continued working in that capacity, and as a hostage negotiator, until the time
of his murder.
“[His] focus and energy was on
keeping policemen alive, keeping them safe,” Chief Najolia said. “He was just
an outstanding person and a wonderful, knowledgeable instructor.”
He was also a civilian contractor
with the Department of Defense, and was a First Lieutenant in the Mississippi
State Guard, according to his obituary.
In 2017, Sgt. Smith was named
Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for both the State Guard Association of
the United States and the Mississippi State Guard, The
According to court records, Sgt.
Smith and Wagner had been married since November of 2016, The Times-Picayune
Although they had filed for
bankruptcy on June 1, the couple generally seemed happy.
"You can tell when a man loves a
woman," neighbor Kathy LaBorde told The Times-Picayune. "You could
tell he loved her. And I thought she loved him."
Despite investigators’ findings, an
attorney where Wagner worked as a paralegal maintained that Sgt. Smith’s
gunshot wound was self-inflicted.
Palazzo alleged that the sergeant was suffering from post-traumatic stress
"We have evidence from the day
he took his own life that he was depressed, had been drinking and taking muscle
relaxers and had been engaging in dark, suicidal social media posts,"
Palazzo told The New
"This is a true tragedy. But
this is a suicide, not a homicide," the attorney said.
He added that Wagner has been “in
shock” since the incident occurred, The New Orleans Advocate reported.
“She’s been traumatized by the whole
event,” Palazzo said.
But Latten said that the outcome of
the investigation confirmed the suspicions that he and Sgt. Smith’s friends and
coworkers had been mulling for weeks, according to The Times-Picayune.
"She walked up to me and said,
'I just want you to know that Troy did not kill himself. I was in the bedroom
with him, and it was an accident,'" Latten said of one conversation he had
Wagner was booked into the Jefferson
Parish Correctional Center on a $500,000 bond.
Sgt. Smith leaves behind two sons,
Dominic and Gabriel, and two stepdaughters, Vayda and Layla, according to his
He was laid to rest on June 30.