FBI Investigates Handcuffed Suspect Shot in the Chest

Originally published on September 5, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After months of silence, the FBI is launching an investigation into the alleged suicide of Victor White III. Shot in the chest with his hands cuffed behind his back, White reportedly produced a hidden gun in the back of a patrol car and killed himself. Contradicting the claims of his arresting officers, a recent autopsy report proves the police lied about his death while leaving further questions unanswered.

According to a Louisiana State Police press release, deputies with the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a fight on the evening of March 2. After confronting White and searching him, the deputies allegedly found drugs in his pockets. They placed White into custody, cuffed his hands behind his back, and put him in the backseat of a patrol car. Upon arriving at the Sheriff’s Office, White reportedly became uncooperative, pulled out a gun, and shot himself in the back. But witness reports and the coroner’s office contradict the police’s allegations.

After purchasing $10 worth of marijuana, White and his friend, Isaiah Lewis, walked to a local convenience store to buy cigars. According to Lewis and the store manager, a fight broke out between two men outside the store. White and Lewis remained inside as a woman called 911. After the fight broke up, White and Lewis left the store and began walking down the sidewalk.

A few minutes later, Corp. Justin Ortis pulled his cruiser alongside them and ordered them to stop. Although White and Lewis offered to assist Ortis in tracking down the men who had been fighting, Ortis subjected them to a pat down instead. After finding the small amount of marijuana in White’s pocket, Ortis called for backup and had White’s hands cuffed behind his back.

After releasing Lewis, the police claim to have given White a second pat down discovering a small baggie of cocaine on him. They placed White in the back of a patrol car and transported him to the Sheriff’s Office. Even though White had been searched twice, he reportedly pulled out a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol and shot himself in the chest with his hands cuffed behind him.

In the autopsy report, the coroner revealed two lacerations on White’s face near his left eye. According to Lewis and other witnesses, White’s face had been unmarked before he had been taken into custody. None of the police reports mention White getting into an altercation with law enforcement officials.

Although the coroner tested the entry wound for gunshot residue, Dr. Carl Ditch did not test White’s hands. Classifying White’s death as a suicide, Dr. Ditch offers no explanation as to how a left-handed man with his hands cuffed behind his back shot himself on the right side of his chest. While investigating the incident, the State Police have refused to release the dash cam footage and names of the other officers present during White’s death. To add to the community’s mistrust, Louisiana police officers have a notorious history of falsifying reports, planting drugs on suspects, and placing non-department issued guns referred to as “ham sandwiches” next to the bodies of their victims.

On November 19, 2013, seventeen-year-old Jesus Huerta died in the back of a police cruiser in Durham, North Carolina. After receiving a call about a runaway juvenile, Officer S. Duncan confronted Huerta and placed him into custody. After cuffing Huerta’s hands behind his back, Duncan frisked the teenager finding no weapons on him.

While driving to the police station, Duncan asserts Huerta produced a hidden .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun and shot himself in the mouth with his hands cuffed behind his back. Although Duncan’s dash cam had activated at the start of his shift, the camera shut off after picking up Huerta.

On July 29, 2012, Jonesboro Police officers arrested Chavis Carter for possession of marijuana. After handcuffing Carter’s hands behind his back and searching him a second time, the Arkansas cops placed him in the back of their car. According to the officers, Carter pulled out a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol and shot himself through the right temple even though he is left-handed. The FBI has also launched an investigation into Carter’s alleged suicide.

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