This Man's Mysterious Death May Paint a Chilling Picture of Police Brutality in America

KLFY News screenshot
KLFY News screenshot

The news: In March, 22-year-old Victor White III was shot to death in the back of a police car. According to the official police report, authorities claimed he did it to himself — while handcuffed — but that already dubious version of events got even more suspicious after part of a new autopsy report was released last week.

White was taken into custody in New Iberia, Louisiana and died of a gunshot wound, police said, after drawing a hidden weapon and accidentally shooting himself in the back, hard as that may seem.

The first page of the autopsy report leaked, though, and it reveals that White was actually shot in the chest. It also rules his death a suicide, although that seems exceedingly difficult considering his arms were handcuffed behind his back. 

After the shooting, law enforcement told the press that White had been picked up because he may have been involved in a fight at a convenience store. When he was searched, police said, narcotics were found and he was arrested.

White refused to exit the car and became "uncooperative," police said, which is when the gunshot occurred. It's protocol to check people for weapons before they're put in a police car, but if law enforcement's version of events is true that doesn't seem to have occurred (never mind the difficulty one might have drawing and firing a weapon while handcuffed).

So just to recap:

1. The police arrested White on drugs suspicions, searched his body and handcuffed his hands behind his back.

2. When they arrived to the police station, White refused to get out of the car and was being "uncooperative."

3. White, still handcuffed, somehow got a gun out of his pants (which the police must have missed during their search) and killed himself ...

4. By shooting himself in the back ...

5. Even though the bullet went through his chest.

Something doesn't add up.

White's family refuses to believe that he would accidentally shoot himself in the back — or commit suicide. His father, Victor White Sr., told Vice that police wouldn't even let him see the body. He kept pushing, and ended up getting one look once the coroner came. "They told me I couldn't see his lower body," he told Vice. "I could only see his face." 

What happens now? There certainly hasn't been a reaction like there was in Ferguson — potentially because so much of the case still seems like a mystery. There was a rally outside the Iberia Parish Courthouse in March looking for answers. Local activists called for the FBI and Department of Justice to open an investigation into the White's death, though there's been little movement so far. 

Regardless, this incident is a sobering reminder that events like Michael Brown's death at the hands of police brutality are not uncommon in America. Just because all eyes are on Ferguson doesn't mean that other parts of America are, even for a short time, safe from the growing problem of police brutality, especially against minorities. And though it will take time for the true details of this case to unfold, the bizarre and seemingly contradictory details we've seen so far seem to indicate that this case isn't as simple as the authorities would like you to believe. 

Meanwhile, his family started a fundraiser to pay for an independent autopsy and crime scene test. They also hired Carol Powell-Lexing, who was a defense attorney in the Jena Six case.

"My family has no closure, because there are all these questions still looming over us," White Sr. told Vice back in March. "I still call out his name. I still think I'm going to wake up from this nightmare."