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The Police Account
Bryant Wininger -- at the time an NOPD lieutenant -- shot McDonald to death on Sept. 3, 2005, according to a seven-page police report documenting the killing. (Wininger has since retired from the force.)
Wininger and other officers who were present said McDonald was toting a "handgun and a bottle containing an unknown liquid" in a "white plastic bag" as he stood on a street in the Marigny neighborhood.
Armed with an assault rifle, Wininger commanded McDonald to drop the sack. McDonald "ignored the order" and "reached into the bag in an attempt to remove a handgun," the police report states.
Wininger quickly fired four times. According to the report, when the shooting stopped, Wininger and the other officers checked out McDonald and discovered "what they believed to be a single gunshot to the left back area." The officers said they recovered a 9-mm handgun, bullets and a hunting knife from the man.
McDonald died at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, La.
The police sergeant who investigated the shooting said he couldn't locate any civilian witnesses to the incident and didn't find any physical evidence at the scene.
The Family's Concerns
In Connecticut, the McDonald family says they got several conflicting accounts about Matt McDonald's death from authorities in Louisiana.
According to his brother, John McDonald, and sister-in-law, Kerry McDonald, the NOPD never revealed the basic facts of the killing to them. The McDonalds didn't know an officer had shot Matt McDonald until a reporter contacted them. Matt McDonald's girlfriend, Martha Dziadul, echoed their complaint. The NOPD, she said, "never ever told me the police shot him."
The Orleans Parish coroner’s office lost Matt McDonald’s autopsy report, according to chief investigator John Gagliano. However, CNN obtained a copy of the document and provided it to a ProPublica reporter. The autopsy report shows McDonald was killed by a single gunshot to the back.