Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Coroner: 22-year-old black man strangled to death by Louisiana police

Coroner: 22-year-old black man strangled to death by Louisiana police

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said at Monday's news conference that the four undercover narcotics sheriff's deputies who were involved in the incident have now been placed on desk duty.

On Monday, Robinson's family and others protested with signs that read "Justice for Keeven". Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said the injuries were "consistent with compressional asphyia". After the results of the autopsy, Lopinto said he contacted the FBI's Civil Rights Task Force and the State Police for a joint investigation into the case.

"I understand that this investigation will be under a microscope".

The sheriff said he told reporters Thursday that asthma was the likely culprit because that information - supplied by Robinson's family - was the best information he had at the time.

He said Louisiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his office will continue to investigate.

Lopinto identified the JPSO agents involved as white. He confirmed they are white.

"An independent set of eyes is appropriate", Lopinto said. "It's whether the force was excessive".

Some marchers were heard singing "Amazing Grace".

"For me it means unity, coming together and pretty much just supporting the family", protester Regina Hollins told WWL-News.

Again, according to the sheriff's office, the deputies then struggled with Robinson, who was carrying what they suspected to be heroin, before they managed to handcuff him.

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Robinson, who was the target of an undercover drug operation, fled from police in his auto, crashed into two sheriff's vehicles, and then fled on foot - jumping over several backyard fences before he was caught with drugs on him, officials said. When the 22-year-old saw detectives at a gas station, he attempted to drive away, but crashed his vehicle.

Now, a coroner has announced that he died of asphyxiation due to pressure applied to his neck.

Lopinto said the names of the detectives will not be released at this time.The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office does not use body cameras. He also noted police are "not trained" to use the chokehold on suspects, but aren't "forbidden from doing that". "But if you're fighting for your life and a brick's there, you hit someone with a brick". The 22-year-old black man, who had a gun in the auto and was suspected of being in possession of heroin, was on the run from the police when he crashed his auto into two Sheriff's Office vehicle.

So far, no video has surfaced.

Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies do not wear body cams.

"That would make this family more comfortable with what's going on", the family's attorney, Hester Hilliard, said Monday (May 14) after authorities revealed that Robinson's death had been ruled a homicide.

"We want the young black men to be able to walk the streets and when the police do frisk them, we want them to be able to stand and let the police do their job", Sheryl Robinson said.

Also in attendance at the news conference was Gaylor Spiller of the local NAACP chapter.

When asked for her reaction to the autopsy results, the 61-year-old grandmother said she was not surprised. "We're here to support all sides", Spiller said. "I knew he just didn't die because the ozone was high".

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