Keeven Robinson, a 22-year old African American man, was killed during a violent arrest and his death was initially connected to his chronic asthma and poor air quality. But the preliminary autopsy results show that he actually suffered asphyxia… and now his death has been ruled a homicide.
Jefferson Parish Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich revealed the autopsy results in a news conference. He said it has been found that Robinson “sustained significant traumatic injuries to the neck, the soft tissue of the neck” and determined the cause of death was apparently “compressional asphyxia.”
Robinson’s medical history shows he has chronic asthma. Additionally, the incident happened in Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana, where there had been an air quality alert at the time.
On Thursday, Robinson’s car was stopped by police at a petrol station, accusing him of selling drugs. Robinson fled in his car and eventually on foot before police officers captured him.
After he was handcuffed, the officers realized that Robinson has stopped breathing. Officials said they began performing CPR and brought him to the hospital but he was eventually pronounced dead.
“The reality of it is they were in a fight with this gentleman,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said in a news conference, adding that an investigation will determine if excessive force was used.”
He said that it is unclear if the officers indeed used a chokehold, but added they are “not forbidden from doing that, but they’re not trained… to do that on a normal basis”.
“From a policy standpoint, we don’t train somebody to hit someone with a brick,” Sheriff Lopinto continued. “But if you’re fighting for your life and a brick’s there, you hit someone with a brick.”
Sheriff Lopinto also added that heroin was found on Robinson and a handgun was later on found on his car, although he was unarmed at the time of his death.
There was no video footage of the incident because apparently, the officers did not wear body cameras and they were undercover detectives in plainclothes.
The four officers who were involved have now been placed on desk duty.
Gaylor Spiller, the president of NAACP’s Jefferson Parish chapter, denounced the lack of body cameras.
“You wear a badge, you say you’re law enforcement, you should wear a camera. Find a way to put it on there. We [the NAACP] strongly believe the cameras would be a good thing to have,” she said, since “some [officers] … they go way overboard.”