The death of a black man in police custody in Louisiana has been ruled a homicide by asphyxiation, a coroner said Monday.
Keeven Robinson, 22, died Thursday at a Jefferson Parish hospital following a car chase with deputies who said he was a suspect in a narcotics investigation.
Robinson left his vehicle following the chase and jumped several fences before he was caught by four Jefferson Parish police officers, all of them white. A struggle ensued. Robinson was taken into custody and later died.
During a Monday press conference, Jefferson Parish coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich announced that Robinson’s death had been ruled a homicide. Robinson died due to compressional asphyxia from injuries to his neck, Cvitanovich said.
“This initial medical classification does not take into account whether the homicide was an intentional act, accidental act, or an act incidental to a law enforcement action,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said in a statement. He added that the FBI’s civil rights task force is also looking into the matter.
Following the news that Robinson’s death had been ruled a homicide, more than 100 marchers took to the streets in a New Orleans suburb to demand justice.
Gaylor Spiller, president of the West Jefferson Parish chapter of the NAACP, said Robinson’s family will seek an independent autopsy.
“I like the fact that Sheriff Lopinto stepped up to plate, and he’s doing his part,” Spiller said, according to WDSU. “He knows that the NAACP will be on his trail.”
The four officers involved in the death have been reassigned. Their identities have not been made public.
“Somebody’s family actually lost a life, and I’m very cognizant of that,” Lopinto said during the news conference. “That doesn’t mean our officers did anything wrong, or it may mean that they did something wrong.”
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