Man shot 5 times by friendly fire in deputy-involved shooting speaks out

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Roommate of man killed in deputy-involved shooting speaks out (KTRK)

A man shot five times by "friendly fire" wants the officers who were involved fired and the rest re-trained.

Joshua Coucke, 35, is still recovering from the night two Harris County Sheriff's deputies came to arrest his roommate and ended up shot five times, including in the hand, stomach, and back. He suffered a collapsed lung and has had four surgeries.

The pain and anguish never had to happen, says his attorney.

"It could have been prevented had these officers followed basic common safety rules," said Andrew Lemanski, Coucke's attorney.

On Jan. 31, the deputies were at Coucke's door on Kiplands Way in north Harris County after Matthew Cobb threatened his ex-wife with a gun at another location. Cobb was upstairs sleeping.

Coucke says the deputies had him open his door to wake him.

Cobb, who later committed suicide, grabbed a hidden gun. The officers retreated and Coucke followed.

What surveillance video did not show was the flurry of "friendly fire" Coucke was under. One of the deputies was also shot.

Investigators are waiting for ballistics tests to confirm all the bullets came from Deputy Juan Lerma's gun.

"He just panic-fired behind him. Either he stopped and did it or ran and did it, which doesn't sound like any standard procedure I've ever heard of," said Coucke in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.

But he blames both deputies for not evacuating him and his girlfriend, who was also there. He has filed an internal affairs complaint.

"We wouldn't be here. He wouldn't have been shot," Lemanski said.

"Ideally, those officers would be terminated, and if any laws broken, by all means, face the consequences of those and I think I should be compensated," added Coucke. "And for the rest of the department, maybe some training to go over some basics."

The sheriff's office declined to comment. Lerma, a patrol deputy of four years, remains on paid administrative duty as the investigation continues. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Coucke, a crane service technician, has missed four months of work. He has not regained full function of his right hand.

"I never thought I'd be shot by the police. Like, never, ever. I'm a pretty boring guy," Coucke said.

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