JPSO, other agencies looking into suspect's death while in police custody


The four plainclothes narcotics detectives involved in the arrest have been reassigned to desk work while authorities investigate the death, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said.

Keeven Robinson died on May 10 after a vehicle chase during an undercover drug operation by the county police.

The 22-year-old was at a gas station in the New Orleans suburb on Thursday when he reportedly noticed narcotics agents approaching him. Robinson hopped back into his vehicle when he spotted detectives approaching and sped out of the parking lot, hitting two JPSO cars during the brief, half-block auto chase, authorities said. They caught and handcuffed him in the backyard of a home, the reports said.

The attorney for the family of a black suspect who died after a struggle with white sheriff's deputies in suburban New Orleans says a march has been scheduled in his honor near the spot where the struggle happened. Officers took him to Oschner Medical Center but doctors were unable to revive him. Lopinto told he thought Robinson's history of asthma probably caused his death, but also acknowledged his officers had used force on the man while pledging a thorough investigation of whether their actions were reasonable.

'I understand that this investigation will be under a microscope, ' Lopinto said.

Lopinto said the names of the detectives will not be released at this time.The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office does not use body cameras.

'There's no doubt [the deputies] used force, ' Lopinto said. "It's whether the force was excessive".

A Louisiana coroner has ruled the death of an unarmed black man during his arrest was likely a "homicide" and he had suffered "compressional asphyxia". He said complete results, including toxicology reports and examination of microscopic evidence from Robinson's lungs, will take weeks.

More news: 'Tax Amazon': Seattle passes plan for corporate wealth tax to fund housing

Keeven Robinson's grandmother, Sheryl Robinson, spoke after the Sheriff's press conference, saying that her grandson's death is bigger than just one person.

Though the family and the West Jefferson NAACP express gratitude to the coroner's office for its transparency, the Robinson family is frustrated, Hilliard said. "They're grieving, and today they had to find out that Keeven lost his life at the hands of another", she said, according WDSU.

Hilliard added that his clients would feel "more comfortable" if Jefferson Parish police weren't involved in the investigation.

Among those attending the news conference earlier Monday was Gaylor Spiller of the Jefferson Parish chapter of the NAACP.

"We want the truth to the community", Spiller said.

She credited Lopinto and Cvitanovich for being open about the autopsy results and the investigation.

"We've been discussing body cameras for years", Lopinto said.

"I know people would ask for that, but that's just not the case when you're working in that capacity", he said.