Coroner rules black man shoots self in chest while handcuffed
A 22-year-old African-American shot himself in the chest when his hands were cuffed behind his back, a coroner has ruled.
Victor White III died in March while restrained in the back of a deputy’s car at the sheriff’s station in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Louisiana State Police initially reported that Mr White shot himself in the back when his hands were cuffed behind him.
But this contradicts the final report of the Iberia Parish coroner, released six months later, which states that Mr White was shot in the chest, not the back.
He and a friend, Isaiah Lewis, 24, were searched by police at around 11.30pm on March 2.
After officers found cocaine and marijuana, Mr White was transported to the patrol centre to be questioned by narcotics detectives.
He died of a gun shot wound after a bullet entered his right chest, perforated his left lung and heart and then exited under his left armpit, the coroner’s report states.
Mr White was left-handed, according to family members.
A forensic pathologists found gunshot residue in the wound and cuts were seen on Mr White’s face.
Dr Carl Ditch ruled that White shot himself, and declared his death a suicide on Monday.
In a statement, he said: ‘Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus (type), the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact wound was found.’
Dr. Maranda Kles, a forensic expert with UL Lafayette reviewed the autopsy and coroner’s statement.
She explained the bullet entered on the right lateral or side part of the chest and exited on the left.
When asked, how it might have been possible for White to manoeuvre and retrieve the gun, she said: ‘If there was some give in those handcuffs that allowed for movement in the arms over to the side, movement of the hands it could have been possible.
‘The further the gun is away from the body, the larger the spread of that pattern. If you have no stippling, it typically means you have a very close or contact wound which means the gun was pressed against the skin or in very, very close proximity, millimeters from the skin.’
Mr White’s father, a Baptist minister and former substance abuse counselor, has expressed anger at the verdict, which he believes is physically impossible.