Black Man's Death in Police Custody Ruled a Homicide

Keeven Robinson's death has been ruled a homicide
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2018 5:30 PM CDT
Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, right, listens during a press conference where he said that Keeven Robinson's death was by homicide by asphyxia   (Matthew Hinton /The Advocate via AP)

(Newser) – A black Louisiana man's death while in the custody of multiple white police officers has been ruled a homicide. The Times-Picayune reports that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office had Keeven Robinson in custody after he allegedly led them on a car chase last week. The parish coroner announced on Monday that the 22-year-old died of neck injuries "consistent with compressional asphyxia." Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich also ruled the manner of death as homicide. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto appeared with the coroner at a news conference amid widespread media scrutiny of the case. Lopinto declined to identify the four deputies involved but did confirm they were white. Per the AP, Lopinto said it was too early to conclude whether a choke hold was used. "There's no doubt they used force," Lopinto said. "It's whether the force was excessive."

News outlets in New Orleans reported that authorities had said Robinson was under surveillance by narcotics agents Thursday morning when he noticed the agents approaching at a gas station. He drove away but abandoned his car after crashing into two vehicles. Deputies chased him and caught and handcuffed him in the back yard of a home. Lopinto said he was in possession of heroin. He was unarmed, although there was a gun in the abandoned car. Meanwhile, an attorney for Robinson's family says a march has been scheduled for Monday evening in his honor near the spot where the struggle happened. The attorney, Hester Hilliard, appeared with the family at a news conference where she said the sheriff's office and coroner had acted with "professionalism and transparency." However, she also said the family would like to see an agency other than the sheriff's office lead the investigation.

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