Coroner says man fatally shot himself in the chest while handcuffed behind his back

AFP Photo / Sean GardnerRT

The release of an autopsy report in Louisiana is raising new questions about the unusual shooting death of a 22-year-old black male who died earlier this year in a police car while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

RT reported earlier this year that police in Iberia Parish, LA said Victor White III died in early March after he fatally shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a squad car. White had reportedly been apprehended for possession of drugs, and was searched no fewer than two times before being cuffed and placed in the backseat of a police vehicle. According to the police report from the time, White uncovered a gun while in the car and shot himself in the back.  

According to a coroner’s report just recently obtained by NBC News, however, White died from a gunshot wound that entered his body in the chest. Nevertheless, Dr. Carl Ditch wrote in the report that White was capable of firing the shot while cuffed “due to his body habitus” and has agreed to rule the death a suicide.

Hannah Rappleye, a reporter for NBC, compared the coroner’s story with the official police report from March in an article published by the outlet this week.

“White was shot in the front, not the back. The bullet entered his right chest and exited under his left armpit. White was left-handed, according to family members. According to the report, the forensic pathologist found gunshot residue in the wound, but not the sort ofstipplingthat a close-range shot can sometimes produce. He also found abrasions on White’s face,” she wrote. “And yet, despite the contradictions – and even though White’s hands were never tested for gunpowder residue – the Iberia Parish coroner still supported the central contention of the initial police statement issued back in March.”

“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,” Ditch wrote.

The deceased’s father, Rev. Victor White II, told NBC that he had his doubts about the coroner’s report.

“You can’t make me understand,” he said. “You can’t make me understand how my son took his left hand, when he was handcuffed behind the back, and shot himself. I don’t believe a thing they’re saying at this point.”

According to the coroner, however, White was indeed capable of causing his own death.

“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,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, though, the Louisiana State Police remain in the midst of an investigation launched nearly nine months ago into the shooting death. Writing for NBC, Rappleye wrote that that probe has so far failed to reveal any new information about the tragic death.

“Due to the pending investigation, records normally considered public are not available. The State Police will not yet release dash cam footage, or the number of or names of any officers present during White’s death. They will not give any timeframe as to when they expect the investigation to conclude,” she wrote.

“You always want to make sure in the end you did whatever you could do possible, that in whatever case you put forward, is the right case, and the outcome is the right outcome,” Trooper Brooks David, public information officer for the Louisiana State Police, told NBC. “So if it takes us eight months, or two months, you always want to make sure that you do the right thing.”

According to Rev. White, however, legal action might be the next step if the eventual release of the Louisiana State Police’s report raises more doubts about his son’s death.

“I don’t’ think anything is going to be different from what they already said,” he told NBC. “It’s difficult to see that anything else would bring us back what we need. The only thing we want back is our son.”

5 thoughts on “Coroner says man fatally shot himself in the chest while handcuffed behind his back

  1. We have been following this story here. New Iberia is about 20 miles from us. The original claim was he shot himself in the back. Then after the coroner did his thing, it changed to a chest shot. The liars still claim he shot himself. No one other than the cops down here believe that story.
    Personally, I think the cop shot him while putting him in the car and made up the lie to cover his ass. No riots yet though. I guess Sharpton doesn’t like to go to the south in the summertime.

  2. I am flabbergasted!!! Please explain how in the world anyone, even a contortionist, can shoot themselves in the chest while handcuffed with their hands behind their back. It is just not possible. I cannot see being able to do it with a dislocated shoulder. This “coroner” must have got his medical degree from a box of Cracker Jacks. What is even more amazing is he expects us to believe him. HANG HIM and all the pigs involved.

  3. Cop failed in his job to begin with if the person he was putting in the back of his car was armed and not disarmed by the cop in his perp search..bad cop

    now if the cop shot him as he was putting him in the back of the car hand cuffed and unable to defend himself ..well forensic , and ballistic tests and the fact the cop should be missing a round in his duty weapon ..I would have thought this would already be solved with in minuets of the shooting .. both incidents matter how you slice it..= bad cop

    I think the reason were not getting the truth is because the cop f-ing shot him and made this crap else would one look at this?

  4. “…the unusual shooting death of a 22-year-old black male who died earlier this year in a police car while his hands were cuffed behind his back.”

    What’s “unusual” about this? This is the fourth time in less than a year that a man was shot dead while handcuffed in the back of a police car. (and the fourth time is was ludicrously ruled a suicide)

    “Well captain, I haven’t been doing very well at the shooting range, so we thought it would be easier to catch him and cuff him before killing him. There’s no way I’m going to hit a moving target.”

  5. Sounds like it came right out of Little Rock, AR when Clinton was king

    Surely someone has seen The Clinton Chronicles

    Remember Vince Foster!

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