#justiceforvic defense fund: Donations are still needed to help the White family find out what really happened to their son.
HOW DID VICTOR WHITE III DIE IN THE BACKSEAT OF A COP CAR? Vice, 3/25/14.
Lieutenant Anthony Green, however, was willing to give his take on New Iberia’s response to the shooting, stating, “The community is not really up in arms about this. I don’t sense any large unrest.”
This isn’t the first time the Iberia Sheriff’s Department has been suspected of brutalizing the people of New Iberia. Last year, a group of officers were caught on video beating a handcuffed man at the town’s annual Sugar Cane Festival, an incident that led to a deputy’s firing. And at least a few activists are upset by this history of mistreatment. On March 11, Reverend Raymond Brown, a fast-talking New Orleans preacher, hosted a small rally in New Iberia and called for the US Justice Department and the FBI to investigate Victor’s death.
AUTOPSY CONTRADICTS THE POLICE’S ACCOUNT OF VICTOR WHITE III’S SHOOTING IN THE BACK OF A COP CAR. Vice, 8/21/14.
Handcuffed Black Youth Shot Himself to Death, Says Coroner. NBC News, 8/25/14.
According to Lewis and the manager of the Hop-In, while Lewis and White were inside the store, a fight started outside.
Two men in front of the store began shouting. One told the other he was going to get a gun. White told Lewis they should stay inside. A woman called 911. After the men ran down the street, Lewis and White left.
Around 11:30 p.m. White and Lewis were walking a few blocks down the road when a police cruiser slowed, Lewis said. According to a service report provided to NBC News by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Corp. Justin Ortis asked the men to stop.
Ortis performed a “consented pat-down” of White, according to the report, and “located suspected marijuana in front pants pocket.”
They told the officer, Lewis said, that they could identify the men who were fighting. He said they offered to go to the convenience store with them, to talk to the clerk. “I said, ‘You can still probably catch them,” Lewis said. “You’re just burning time here. Victor said, ‘Why can’t you go back to the store and look at the camera?’ They said they didn’t have time for that.”
According to a public information officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, no one was ever apprehended for that alleged offense.
Lewis said that after finding the marijuana, the officer told them, “I’m going to let y’all go, that’s nothing.”
But after the officer ran the men’s names through a police database, he called for backup. As they waited, White and Lewis sat on the ground in front of the police cruiser, headlights cutting into the dark.
By the time a second officer in a separate cruiser arrived, Lewis said, White had been handcuffed behind his back, and placed in the back of the first car. The police report says White was detained and read his rights.
According to the report, a second search of White produced the cigars and a small amount of cocaine, and White said both the cocaine and marijuana were his. “White was then transported to the patrol center to be questioned by narcotics detectives,” the report concludes.
The officers dismissed Lewis, and he walked back to his father’s house.
But by 5 a.m., Lewis said, detectives were knocking on his door, asking that he come to the station to answer questions about his friend. At no point throughout the course of the subsequent interview, Lewis said, did they tell him that White had died while in the custody of police officers.
Victor White suicide ruling leads to public scrutiny. The Advertiser, 8/27/14.
“Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus (type), the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact wound was found,” the statement said.
Lawyer for White family calls for U.S. Justice Department investigation. The Daily Iberian, 8/27/14.
“He is not Houdini,” [Monroe lawyer Carol] Powell Lexing said. “He is not David Copperfield nor is he a descendant of either.
“There is no way on God’s green Earth that someone handcuffed behind his back can shoot himself through his chest,” she added.
The lawyer claimed she had evidence sheriff’s deputies beat White when they arrested him for possession of narcotics following the report of a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street at 11:22 p.m. March 2. She identified the arresting officer as Justin Ortis and said his Facebook page, which includes a post justifying a photo of an officer slamming a man in a chokehold to the ground, indicates his violent character.
“He has already shown us on his website that he is a badass,” she said.
Powell Lexing said there is a “rat to be smelled” in reference to State Police claims the handgun used was not one used by Iberia deputies. She also accused investigators of taking too long to submit “crucial” evidence such as dash video camera recordings or simply ignoring tests such as those for gunpowder residue on one’s hands or arms.
“Everyone knows, the public knows police officers carry what are called ‘throw-down guns,’” she said.
Powell Lexing said she has been in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and is seeking an independent autopsy by famed New York pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, whose resume includes autopsies on President John F. Kennedy and, most recently, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
She added national media outlets, including MSNBC, also have contacted her and the White family on this story. Following the press conference, Powell Lexing suggested future public response could mirror the protesting in Ferguson following Brown’s killing.
“The country is in an uproar,” she said. “The country wants accountability.”
NY Forensic pathologist to review White’s autopsy. KATC.com, 8/27/14.
Happening now: The attorney for Victor White III’s family held a press conference at the Iberia Parish Courthouse asking for justice after White was shot while in police custody earlier this year. They say New York forensic pathologist Michael Baden has agreed to review the autopsy, and they are in the process of sending him the report.
Baden recently performed an autopsy on Michael Brown, at his family’s request, after he was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Baden, who was also New York City’s Medical Examiner, has also served on the federal committee that re-investigated the deaths of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
White’s family also spoke out in today’s press conference, saying they do not believe White killed himself. They say he was a joyful person who would not have taken his own life. The family attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, says they’re also requesting an investigation from the U.S. Justice Department. A peaceful rally is planned for next month, and details will be forthcoming.
Coroner: Alleged statement White made before he died determined manner of death. KATC.com, 8/28/14.
According to Coroner Carl Ditch’s report, White allegedly said “he was gone” or something similar before he was placed into the patrol car.
Ditch says in the report that the cause of death for White is a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right chest, but notes that “the manner of death is more problematic given it is based on the decedent’s intent, i.e. whether he intended to shoot himself, or the firearm accidentally discharged while he was manipulating it under awkward circumstances.”
New Iberia man’s gunshot death in cruiser was police brutality and not suicide, family says. The Associated Press/nola.com, 8/28/14.
KATC.com Victor White III coverage