Another week, another unarmed black male gets shot to death by the police.
This latest episode happened in New Iberia in Louisiana. where the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office turned in a report that stated that Victor White, 22, who was handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, suddenly committed suicide by shooting himself in the back.
Before you begin to try to perform the mental acrobatics it takes to bend your mind around the fact that police always search a suspect thoroughly — and claim they still missed the gun — before tossing him the back of a police cruiser, consider this fact:
The autopsy report punches gaping holes in the original police story that’s bigger than the gunshot wounds in White’s dead body. The medical examiner stated that White was shot in the chest, not in the back as the original police report stated five months ago.
Since the Louisiana State Police began their own investigation into the circumstances surrounding White’s mysterious homicide, the Iberia Police Department has suddenly gone quiet.
The story begins with an alleged fight in a convenience store parking lot near White’s home in New Iberia. Deputies say they found illegal narcotics White, therefore he was subsequently arrested on possession and taken in for booking. But White’s story, the one given five months ago by law enforcement, ends right after his arrival at the sheriff’s office, when he’s said to have refused to exit the back seat of the deputy’s cruiser.
The arresting sheriff’s deputy allegedly ran for help to retrieve White from the car. This is when White is alleged to have pulled out a handgun that was somehow undetected during frisking, and with his hands still in cuffs behind his back, fired off a round into his back. White died shortly after, leaving the deputies on the scene as the only witnesses to the incident.
And get this: The sheriff’s office maintains there are no surveillance cameras in that area of the parking lot.
Of course not. Why would there be surveillance cameras at their police station. They are only located at every other police station in America, except Iberia’s.
The story the police turned in was flipped like a gymnast late last week with the release of White’s autopsy by the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office.
The autopsy performed by Christopher Tate, a forensic pathologist with the coroner’s office, reveals a number of glaring holes in the deputies’ account of White’s death:
- There was suddenly a change in the cause of White’s death from accidental shooting to suicide.
- The report states White was killed from a gunshot wound that entered the right side of his chest, tearing through his left lung and heart and exiting through his left armpit, leaving the upper arm with lacerations. This is much different scenario than the handcuffed man who shot himself in the back as deputies claimed.
- The autopsy reveals the fact that White suffered from some sort of blow to the face, listed on the report as two upper facial abrasions near his left eye.
Vice magazine’s Cooper reports on a conversation with White’s father, Victor White Sr. From that conversation in the weeks after the shooting death of his son, which came way before the autopsy’s release, here’s what White says about his son and the deputies who arrested him:
“I know they beat him before he arrived at the station, because those who were with him before he was arrested said he didn’t have a mark on him,” he said.
White Sr. said once he learned of his son’s death, he torpedoed from Alexandria to New Iberia to see his son, but he ran into some problems:
- First, was initially refused by the sheriff’s office.
- When White Sr. finally did get clearance, the body was covered from the neck down by a sheet, with sheriff’s officials refusing to disclose any details on what happened.
- White Sr. didn’t learn the official story of his son’s death until he saw a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page for White.
For White’s father, the facts did not add it up. And he certainly is not buy
ing the coroner’s report that suicide caused his son’s death.
From the start, this case was shrouded in too many questions, but now, with the findings from White’s autopsy released, this situation has worsened for a sheriff’s department with a known history of unfair treatment of black residents in Iberia Parish.
State police is still investigating.
It will be interesting to see how Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and the rest of the department tries to trick-play this homocide past the public, starting with the extremely conspicuous discrepancy between his deputies’ initial account of White’s death and last week’ autopsy.