State police investigate in-custody death
10th March 2014 · 0 Comments
Victim, 22, fatally shot while in handcuffs
State police are investigating the death of a 22-year-old New Iberia, La. man who local police sat shot and killed himself while handcuffed in an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office vehicle Sunday night, March 2.
Trooper Stephen Hammons told The Advocate that Victor White III was reportedly fighting with others when deputies responded to a call in New Iberia.Hammons says deputies who searched White said they found illegal drugs, cuffed his hands behind his back, and then placed him in a squad car for transport to the sheriff’s office for processing.
“Once at the Sheriff’s Office, White became uncooperative and refused to exit the deputy’s patrol vehicle,” Hammons said.
Hammons says White produced a handgun and fired one round, striking himself in the back.
White was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal asked state police to investigate the death.
Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lt. Anthony Green told Lafayette’s KATC News that basic police training teaches officers that “if you put someone in your unit, you do check for weapons.” Green said the suspect was checked, because the deputy found narcotics on White’s person.
One of the questions to be asked by state police investigating the incident is how thoroughly Victor White was checked by Iberia Parish sheriff’s deputies after he was arrested.
“We’re investigating how he got the gun,” Hammons told The Advocate Monday. “It’s too early in our investigation to comment further.”
The shooting victim’s family refutes police claims that Victor White shot himself while in handcuffs and demanded answers last week.
“They have issued a statement that he shot himself but we know that is not true,” White’s sister, Keisha Davis, told MadameNoire.com. “We will not stop until justice is served.”
The family is in the process of raising funds to pay for an independent autopsy of Victor White’s remains. Anyone who is interested in making a donation is encouraged to send monies to MidSouth Bank (account number 3428427). The family is also using social media to raise awareness about the case and encouraged anyone with information about the incident to come forward. For more information about the social media campaign, go to #JusticeForVic.
A similar incident occurred in Arkansas in 2012 involving 21-year-old Chavis Carter, who authorities say shot himself in the back of the head while handcuffed on the back seat of a police car.
“This doesn’t add up,” the Rev. Raymond Brown, a New Orleans community activist whose protests in Jena several years ago raised national awareness about the plight of the Jena 6, told The Louisiana Weekly. “It just doesn’t make sense.
“How does someone who is handcuffed and in police custody kill himself”? asked Brown, who is president of National Action Now. “How does someone who is handcuffed first acquire a gun and outmaneuver law enforcement officers who are trained to handle every possible situation?”
Brown said he will continue to monitor this situation closely and will offer support and guidance to the victim’s family. “We will not rest until the many questions that remain are answered and justice is served in this case.” Brown added.
Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.
This article originally published in the March 10, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.