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 Iberia district attorney releases statement on Victor White case
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3 weeks ago

Iberia district attorney releases statement on Victor White case

The 16th Judicial District Attorney's Office released a statement Monday acknowledging it has received the investigative report on Victor White III from State Police.

According to the statement, the DA's office will wait until the federal investigation of White's case is complete before deciding the next step in the case.

Following is the statement given by the DA's office:

Prior to the receipt of the Louisiana State Police investigation, the family of Victor White, III requested that the federal government conduct its own investigation into the matter, and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have agreed to do so.

The 16th Judicial District Attorney's Office respects the request of the White family for federal authorities to investigate this matter, and we look forward to those federal authorities working jointly and cooperatively with the Louisiana State Police. Of course, in the end, we all have the same objective: discovering the facts and truth. With that in mind, we will honor the White family's decision and allow the federal investigation to be conducted before we make any final decisions. We, too, want to have the benefit of their investigative efforts to assist us in our decision making process.

To that end, we have reached out to the White family, through their attorney, Ms. Carol Powell-Lexing, to advise them of how and when we intend to proceed. Certainly, we will provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation with copies of the entire investigative file submitted to us by the Louisiana State Police. Additionally, we fully expect the Louisiana State Police to be open and cooperative as well with the federal investigation.

We welcome the involvement of the federal authorities. We acknowledge our very important responsibility to seek the truth, and we know that the input of the federal authorities and the Louisiana State Police will provide us with a comprehensive investigation upon which to base our decision. We will not comment on the facts or evidence in the matter, and, indeed, we have an obligation not to make public commentary on the facts and evidence while the matter is pending.

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3 weeks ago

State Police turn over Victor White investigation to Iberia district attorney

State Police say they have concluded their investigation into the shooting death of Victor White III and have turned over the investigation to the Iberia Parish District Attorney's Office.

The report will not be made public until charges are filed or the case is closed.

Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal has released a statement in response to the conclusion of the State Police investigation.

"In my opinion, this was a tragic loss of life and it is difficult to understand why it happened," he said.

Ackal said his office will wait until the DA's office reviews the report before he requests a copy.

He also says he will decide what action, if any, needs to be taken based on the outcome of the report from State Police.

State Police issued a release in March that said deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White was allegedly in possession of narcotics. Deputies handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back.

White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

White's autopsy report showed he was shot in the chest, not the back as initially reported by State Police.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District said recently that there is an active federal investigation into White's case.

Ackal said he welcomes the federal investigation.

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3 weeks ago

IPSO Issues Statement on Status of Victor White III Case

In a statement to KATC after the September 4th rally in Baton Rouge, Captain Ryan Turner with the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office spoke on behalf of Sheriff Louis Ackal. Turner says while it's the department's policy not to comment on an ongoing investigation, the sheriff does say that he welcomes any investigation from an outside agency (like the FBI). Turner goes on to say that Sheriff Ackal was the person to initially contact state police, as he wanted an outside agency to perform the investigation. The department says without the full report and investigation in hand, they don't yet have enough information to comment fully on the matter, but once that is obtained they will be speaking out.

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3 weeks ago

Rev. Al Sharpton, others hold Rally for Victor White III in Baton Rouge

The death of Victor White III is getting even more national attention. His death back in March was ruled a suicide, but his family isn't buying it, and they are getting some big names to back their cause and their fight.

A rallying call echoing Thursday night from Southern University in Baton Rouge.

It was a packed house at Southern University as Reverend Al Sharpton took the stage to express anger over the handling of the case of Victor White the III. A case, Reverend Sharpton says he's never seen in 30 years of fighting for civil rights.

Anger. Frustration. Confusion. Those were the emotions expressed by those rallying for Victor White the III at Southern University. Among those, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, who says he does not trust the ruling that the New Iberia man's death was a suicide.

"Something about this stinks," says Rev. Sharpton.

Sharpton was joined by the attorneys for White's family. Benjamin Crump also served as the attorney for Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.

"They reject and refuse to accept this conclusion that their son committed suicide in this Houdini handcuffed bizarre style that not even Houdini himself could do. Think about it, shoot yourself in the chest and then get your hands back behind your back? It just flies in the face of all common sense," says Crump, attorney for White's family.

Speaking to family, protesters, and students, Sharpton pleaded for those in attendance to rise up and ask the Justice Department to look into the case.

"The truth cannot be that someone was patted down twice, was handcuffed in the back, and with no motivation that the media has even asked, was able to physically turn around and get a gun that couldn't have been there and shoot himself in the chest AFTER months of saying he was shot in the back," says Sharpton.

Reverend Sharpton, as well as both of White's attorneys, say they will continue to press both state officials and federal officials for answers as to what exactly happened to Victor White II in that in the back of that squad car.

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3 weeks ago

Rev. Al Sharpton at Baton Rouge Rally for Victor White III

HAPPENING NOW: A rally for Victor White III is being held in Baton Rouge. Reverend Al Sharpton is speaking now about the case: "In 30 years of fighting for civil rights, I've never seen a case like this." Alex Labat will have more tonight at 10.

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3 weeks ago

US Attorney Confirms Federal Investigation Into White's Death

Today, Stephanie Finley, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, confirmed that a federal investigation is ongoing into the death of 23-year-old Victor White III, who died in March while in the custody of the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office.

The coroner subsequently determined that White's death was a suicide, but White's family has disputed that conclusion. The United States Attorney's Office, the FBI, and the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division are responsible for investigating allegations of civil rights violations by officials acting under color of law, and for determining whether the evidence demonstrates that a civil rights violation occurred and that it was willful.

U.S. Attorney Finley stated that a federal representative has reached out to the White family to assure them that the Department of Justice will follow where the evidence leads and will take appropriate action based on that evidence.

"This tragic incident deserves a full review of the evidence; our objective is to discover the truth," Finley stated. "The FBI has been working parallel with the current investigation. Our review will take time to complete. FBI agents, along with attorneys from my office and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, will carefully review the results of the current investigation by the Louisiana State Police, will determine what additional investigation, if any, is necessary to determine who fired the fatal shot, and whether the evidence demonstrates a willful civil rights violation. The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the investigation by state authorities. Once the investigation is complete, we will carefully review the
results to decide if any prosecutable violations of federal criminal civil rights statutes occurred."

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4 weeks ago

Victor White III's Family Call For Independent Investigation

The in-custody death of Victor White III is getting more attention. It was featured on national news outlets over the weekend, and today White's family addressed the media in New Orleans.

The 23-year-old died back in March, shortly after his arrest by Iberia Parish Deputies. While handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, deputies said White produced a handgun, and fatally shot himself in the back. However, an autopsy released last week shows White was shot on the side of this chest, not his back. Investigators also said the gun that shot him, is not the type carried by Iberia deputies.

While addressing the media today, their attorney Benjamin Crump was by their side. He's the same attorney for Michael Brown's family in Ferguson Missouri.

"How do you get your arms to the front, and shoot yourself to the chest in that tight compartment. So why doesn't the coroner put that as a possibility in the report? Or do you think it's because they want to get to a certain conclusion to see if this family will be quiet," said Benjamin Crump. White's family is not staying quiet.

"Believe me I was angry and outraged because they didn't tell me anything," said Victor White, Sr., who's the father of Victor White III.

White's family is now calling for an independent investigation.

"Everybody all over the place knew what they were saying happened to my son, that he shot himself in the back, but I'll say this, my son didn't kill himself," said White Sr.

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1 month ago

Coroner: Alleged statement White made before he died determined manner of death

A deciding factor in determining the cause of death for Victor White III was a single statement White allegedly made before he was placed into a police unit in March, according to the full report from the Iberia Parish Coroner.

The coroner initially had only released one page of the autopsy, but the lawyer for White's family has since released the full report to The Huffington Post.

According to Coroner Carl Ditch's report, White allegedly said "he was gone" or something similar before he was placed into the patrol car.

Ditch says in the report that the cause of death for White is a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right chest, but notes that "the manner of death is more problematic given it is based on the decedent's intent, i.e. whether he intended to shoot himself, or the firearm accidentally discharged while he was manipulating it under awkward circumstances."

A toxicology screen showed White had alcohol and marijuana in his system when he died.

State Police issued a release in March that said deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White was allegedly in possession of narcotics.

Deputies handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back.

White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

White's family and his family's attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, reject coroner's autopsy report.

Lexing announced Wednesday that the family will get an independent review of the autopsy from New York forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, the same doctor who performed an independent autopsy of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

The fatal shooting of Brown by a police officer sparked riots and unrest that made national headlines for weeks.

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1 month ago

Victor White III family getting private autopsy

Victor White III's attorney and family are stepping up their efforts to get national attention on their case. Not only are they asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate, they say a high profile forensic pathologist has agreed to review the autopsy done in Iberia Parish.

White is the man who was handcuffed in the custody of the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department when the coroner says he shot himself back in March. The coroner ruled his death a suicide and says the bullet entered his chest on the right side.

White's family says justice has not been served and they will do whatever it takes to move forward with the case.

"He was energetic, full of life. My son was working and preparing to get an apartment and get a car," says Victor White, Sr., the victim's father.

The family continues to reject the coroner's autopsy report, saying their loved one wouldn't have killed himself, and now, they're getting a second opinion. That second opinion is going to come from New York forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden. The family's attorney, Carol Powel Lexing, says they chose Baden because of his track record.

"He did the autopsies for JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He's been involved in a lot of different high profile cases as we saw last week in the Ferguson case," says Powell-Lexing.

Baden did Michael Brown's autopsy in Missouri. Brown was killed by a police officer there which has led to riots in the town.

Powell-Lexing says she and the family do not agree with the information in White's autopsy report and will continue to fight.

"How does a man who's handcuffed behind his back reach and shoot himself in the front of the chest? This report is ludicrous, we are outraged about it. We don't accept it, we rebuke it, we reject it, we denounce it," Powell-Lexing says. " I don't know why the coroner would even think anybody in their right mind would believe this. Mr. White was not Houdini, nor was he David Copperfield."

She says the family wants to know when the investigation will be finished and wonder why some of the processes are taking so much time.

"We learned that some crucial evidence that should have been investigated in March just got sent off the first week in August. That being the dash cam," Powell-Lexing says, "That should have been the first protocol to examine."

Powell-Lexing also brought up the fact that White's hands have not been tested for gun residue at any point in the investigation.

"The coroner's report is devoid of any testing of the hands, which raises suspicion because that would have been the first thing that they would have done if they are alleging that he actually committed suicide which we know he did not," says Powell-Lexing.

White's parent's say they just don't buy the autopsy report, mixed with the conflicting statements on where he was shot.

"It's unbelievable. Disgusting. Distasteful. For them to come up with something like that and expect that we are going to believe it," White, Sr. "My son did not kill himself."

Requesting another autopsy is not the only step White's attorney and family are taking. They are also asking for help on a national level.

"We're going to reach out and ask the justice department to launch an investigation," says Powell-Lexing.

White's family is also planning a peaceful rally for the case in Iberia Parish sometime in September.

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1 month ago

NY Forensic pathologist to review White's autopsy

Happening now: The attorney for Victor White III's family held a press conference at the Iberia Parish Courthouse asking for justice after White was shot while in police custody earlier this year. They say New York forensic pathologist Michael Baden has agreed to review the autopsy, and they are in the process of sending him the report.

Baden recently performed an autopsy on Michael Brown, at his family's request, after he was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Baden, who was also New York City's Medical Examiner, has also served on the federal committee that re-investigated the deaths of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

White's family also spoke out in today's press conference, saying they do not believe White killed himself. They say he was a joyful person who would not have taken his own life. The family attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, says they're also requesting an investigation from the U.S. Justice Department. A peaceful rally is planned for next month, and details will be forthcoming.

KATC's Valerie Ponseti will have more from the conference in tonight's newscasts.

You'll recall last week, KATC released details of the coroner's report which stated the cause of death was suicide. Following our report Coroner Carl Ditch issued a statement saying " I have determined the cause of death is a single contact gunshot wound to the right lateral chest, and the manner of death is suicide. Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus, the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact entrance wound was found. The manner of death was determined to be suicide based on information gained from the ongoing State Police investigation, that at this point is not complete and has not been released to the public as of yet."

State Police issued a release shortly after the incident in March, saying that that deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White in possession of narcotics. Deputies say they handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but they said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back. White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

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1 month ago

Iberia Coroner releases statement on recently reported Victor White findings

Iberia Parish Coroner Carl Ditch responded to the recently reported autopsy findings on the death of Victor White III, who died in March while in Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office custody.

State Police issued a release shortly after the incident, saying that that deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White in possession of narcotics. Deputies say they handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but they said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back. White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Ditch's statement reads as follows in its entirety:

"The family of Victor White lll was called to meet with me personally on August 14, 2014 and at that time were given a copy of the completed autopsy report and my findings concerning the tragic death of their son. That same day a copy of the report was given to the investigating authorities i.e. the State Police and the District Attorney's Office. No public press release was made at that time since the manner of death was determined to be suicide and the Coroner's Office has a policy of not releasing details of suicide deaths to the public. Due to events since that time, however, I feel this press release is necessary."

"As Coroner of lberia Parish it is my duty to rule on cause and manner of death in all such cases as Mr. White's to the best of my ability and without bias. Based on the forensic evidence and information gained from the ongoing State Police investigation, I have determined the cause of death is a single contact gunshot wound to the right lateral chest, and the manner of death is suicide. Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus, the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact entrance wound was found."

"The manner of death was determined to be suicide based on information gained from the ongoing State Police investigation, that at this point is not complete and has not been released to the public as of yet. Hopefully this will be completed soon and turned over to the lberia Parish District Attorney. I cannot comment on any information from this investigation."

"The sole purpose of this Corone/s investigation is to determine the true cause and manner of the tragic death of Victor White lll. Based on the facts available to me at this time, the above findings are my conclusions."

"There will be no further comments from this office concerning this investigation. Any further questions may be addressed to the Louisiana State Police."

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1 month ago

Victor White III autopsy review

The autopsy report for Victor White III rules that his cause of death was a suicide. White's attorney and family are fighting this ruling and say he did not kill himself.

"We reject the coroner's report. We do not accept it and we will be seeking other means of examining," says White's attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing.

Dr. Maranda Kles at UL reviewed the small portion of the coroner's report that is public record. She said she wouldn't be able to say whether or not she believes the death was a suicide without the full autopsy.

"It would disclose the position he was placed into the vehicle, the position that he was found in the vehicle, the type of weapon that was involved, and if he was seatbelted or not," says Kles.

The report indicates Victor White III was shot in his right chest in the front, and on the side, with a trajectory "slightly" front to back. Chris DeLay from UL's Criminal Justice Department also saw the report, and while he's not ruling a suicide out, he said it would be hard.

"If that is in fact what happened, it would take a lot of acrobatic movements to accomplish," says DeLay.

The officer involved remains on the force while the State Police investigation continues. Part of that investigation includes finding out why a gun wasn't found on White if he was carrying one, but illegal drugs allegedly were found on him.

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1 month ago

State Police say gun used in White shooting death is not one deputies use

State Police say the gun used in the shooting death of Victor White III is not one that deputies in Iberia Parish use.

You'll recall, troopers say Victor White III killed himself back in March after refusing to get out of a patrol car at the Sheriff's Office. They say White was handcuffed, with his hands behind his back.

The newly released coroner's report now classifies White's death as a suicide and says the bullet entered from the front of White's body. According to the autopsy, the bullet entered White's chest, then perforated his left lung and heart before exiting his armpit area and lacerating his upper arm.

State Police issued a release in March that said deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White in possession of narcotics. Deputies say they handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but they said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back. White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

State Police Master Trooper Brooks David told us that troopers did originally believe the gunshot's entrance wound came from the back, however following the coroner's investigation, it was determined the entrance wound was from the front.

David said State Police are still waiting on evidence in the case. He said he cannot comment further on the active investigation.

Lt. Anthony Green, the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman at the time of the shooting, said protocol calls for deputies to check suspects for weapons before they are placed into a police unit.

The deputy involved in the incident remains on active duty for the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office.

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1 month ago

Autopsy report: Victor White III shot in the chest, not back

Victor White III, the New Iberia man who State Police said shot and killed himself in March while in custody in the backseat of a sheriff's car, was shot in the chest, according to a report from the Iberia Parish Coroner's Office.

The Iberia Parish Coroner's Office has released only the first page of the autopsy report, which contradicts statements initially made by State Police who said White shot himself in the back while handcuffed in the back of a sheriff's unit.

According to the autopsy, the bullet entered White's chest, then perforated his left lung and heart before exiting his armpit area and lacerating his upper arm.

The report rules White's death a suicide.

State Police issued a release in March that said deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis Street and found White was allegedly in possession of narcotics. Deputies handcuffed White and took him to the Sheriff's Office for processing, but said White refused to exit the car when they arrived. State Police also said in their initial report that while the deputy was requesting assistance, White produced a handgun and shot himself once in the back.

White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Lt. Anthony Green, the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman at the time of the shooting, said protocol calls for deputies to check suspects for weapons before they are placed into a police unit.

State Police Master Trooper Brooks David said the investigation is still open. He also told us that troopers did originially believe the gunshot's entrance wound came from the back, however following the coroner's investigation, it was determined the entrance wound was from the front.

David said State Police are still waiting on evidence in the case. He said he cannot comment further on the active investigation.

Check back with KATC for updates as this story develops.

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6 months ago

State Police: Man in custody shoots and kills self

A New Iberia man shot himself in the back and killed himself while in the custody of Iberia Parish sheriff's deputies, according to state police. Trooper Stephen Hammons said Victor White III, 22, was arrested after deputies were called to investigate a fight in the 300 block of Lewis St. Sunday night around 11:22. "Deputies located White and discovered he was in possession of illegal narcotics. White was taken into custody, handcuffed behind his back, and transported to the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office for processing," Hammons said.

Once the deputy arrived at the sheriff's office with White in custody, Hammons said White refused to get out of the vehicle. "As the deputy requested assistance from other deputies, White produced a handgun and fired one round striking himself in the back," Hammons said. White was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Lt. Anthony Green says basic police training says "if you put someone in your unit, you do check for weapons." He said the suspect was checked, because the deputy found narcotics on White's person. How thoroughly he was checked will be determined in the state police investigation.

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