The results from a preliminary autopsy conducted on Dexter Wade, a Black man who was killed by a police officer in Mississippi before being buried without notifying his family, found that his body was carelessly mishandled and suggested officials ignored key information, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Pathologist Dr. Frank Peretti conducted the independent autopsy, Crump, who is representing Wade’s family, said in a press release that shared some of the procedure’s major revelations:
Dexter’s body was not embalmed
His body was in an advanced state of decomposition
He presented multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs, and pelvis
His left leg was amputated
His body was completely ran over by the police vehicle
There was a wallet in the front pocket of his jeans containing his state identification card with his home address, his credit card, and a health insurance card
Crump described the action of officials in Hinds County as beyond “incompetence” and completely preventable.
“The tragic news we received from the independent pathologist today was heartbreaking for everyone who knew and cared for Dexter Wade, especially his mother. The fact that Dexter had a state identification card and several other identifying items shows us that there was a concerted effort to keep the truth and manner of his death from his family. There is no excuse, not even incompetence, for not notifying a next of kin of an identified man’s death,” Crump said in a statement.
He continued: “Dexter, a young Black man, was buried with no more dignity and respect than an animal, which no human being deserves. This case has shown us time and time again that the local officials cannot be trusted in this matter and there are clear conflicts of interest. Now, louder than ever, we renew our calls to the Department of Justice to investigate all of the local entities involved in Dexter’s death and what his mother suspects is a “coverup.”
Crump also suggested that Wade may be far from the only person the county treated in such a manner.
“Dexter’s grave was marked number 672,” Crump added. “We can only pray that there aren’t hundreds of other families out there unknowingly suffering this same fate.”
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.
Wade was killed after an off-duty officer struck him with a car back in March. Hinds County took it upon itself to bury him without notifying his family, who only found out last month about the death that was kept secret.
Earlier this week, after a date and time were set to conduct an exhumation, Wade’s family arrived at the grave to find that his body had already been secretly dug up and was in possession of the county, delaying a planned autopsy and funeral and showing county officials reneged on an agreement for when to exhume the 37-year-old’s body.
Crump’s office emailed NewsOne a copy of the letter that Hinds County Board Attorney Tony R. Gaylor sent last week to Dennis Sweet, another attorney working on behalf of Wade’s family.
In the letter, printed on Hinds County stationery and dated Nov. 7, Gaylor writes to Sweet that the “Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted [last week] to release the remains of Mr. Dexter Wade to his family.” The letter clearly stated that the “exhuming will take place on Monday, November 13, 2023 at 11:30 a.m.”
Gaylor concluded the letter by saying “Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Wade at this time.”
Read the letter below:
The entire ongoing incident reeks of a “coverup,” Crump previously said.
As it turns out, both the scheduling of the exhumation and the condolences were false since Hinds County – after secretly burying Wade – then secretly dug him up hours before its own stated time when it was going to take place. County officials exhumed Wade on Monday at 8 a.m. without his family present, Crump said.
“Like a thief in the night, they came and took the body out of the ground,” Crump said about the pre-emptive exhumation.
In a statement sent to NewsOne, Crump said Monday’s developments have left Wade’s mother “with more questions and even more trauma”:
“Since the day that Dexter Wade was struck and killed by a Jackson Police Department cruiser, the truth and facts of this case have been heavily obscured. Dexter’s mother did not know what happened to her son for months, even after her tireless efforts and multiple requests to officials to help her and long after he had been identified. Justice delayed is justice denied, and we will keep fighting for justice in Dexter’s name until his mother gets the closure she deserves.”
Wade’s mother said this is now two times that the county has lied to her about her son.
“They put him in the ground without my permission. They dug him up without my permission — I want that to be known,” Bettersten Wade Robinson said during a press conference.
WAPT reported that Wade’s body “will be returned to his family,” but it was unclear when that would happen and why the county conducted the exhumation without Wade’s family.
A GoFundMe account created nearly a month ago by Wade’s mother to raise money to help pay for her son’s funeral and autopsy has only raised a little more than $16,000 of its $100,000 goal.
“Dexter deserved so much more than being buried in a pauper field grave for the unknown,” Bettersten Wade wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He was a beloved son, father, nephew, and community member who deserved to be treated with love and care and given a proper resting place. Thank you so much for supporting this effort and my family as we deal with the trauma the police have caused us.”
According to NBC News, Bettersten Wade last saw her son on March 5.
A week later, she reported him missing to the Jackson police and then followed up for months. She called missing persons investigators seeking information on numerous occasions, posted appeals on Facebook, searched abandoned houses and asked neighbors for help.
On Aug. 24, a Jackson accident investigator told Bettersten Wade about her son’s death, more than six months after she reported him missing the first time. The accident investigator told her Wade had died the night he left home, struck by a police cruiser while crossing a nearby highway, which was later confirmed by the Hinds County coroner’s office.
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