“Suicide” in Louisiana Police Custody Stirs Memories of Indy’s Michael Taylor Death Case

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“NBC News” is investigating the death of a young African American man at the hands of police that is reminiscent of the 1987 death, here in Indy, of 16-year-old Michael Taylor. Taylor was shot in the head as he sat in the back of an Indianapolis police cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back. Taylor’s death was ruled a suicide by the coroner and several other investigators.

Now, a Louisiana coroner says a black man who died while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car earlier this year committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The coroner’s report obtained by “NBC News” says 22-year-old Victor White shot himself in the chest while his hands were cuffed behind his back. 

You may recall, Taylor died a day after his shooting in Indianapolis. This stirred emotions and levied allegations of racism and murder at the city’s police force. A civil jury in Hancock County in 1996 rejected earlier Marion County Coroner findings including the conclusion that Taylor shot himself with a gun he’d creatively concealed. That jury said police were indeed responsible for Taylor’s death and awarded a multi-million dollar judgment to his family.

This Louisiana coroner’s report on White’s death has been revealed by the investigation unit of “NBC News” on the same day that slain unarmed teenager Michael Brown was laid to rest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, killed by a Ferguson police officer. A grand jury in Missouri is reviewing evidence from the scene in Brown’s death to determine if the officer who shot Brown six times, killing him, should be arrested and charged with murder. In Louisiana, White’s family is waiting for the final results from a state police investigation into what happened to their loved one. They have retained a lawyer but have not decided whether to proceed, according to the media report. This case will also be one to watch.

The deaths of young African American men, at the hands of police and others in their own communities, raises questions of strong armed police tactics and how to reduce violence in neighborhoods across America, including here in Indy. 

To learn more about the Indianapolis death of Michael Taylor, click HERE.

To read more about the Louisiana death of Victor White and the coroner’s findings, click HERE.

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kimwellsmedia 082614 Twitter: @kwellscomm

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