Coroner: Death of man in struggle with JPSO deputies ruled homicide


The death prompted dozens of family members, local activists and other residents to march the streets Monday night near the site of Robinson's death. Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said the injuries were "consistent with compressional asphyia".

Although an official autopsy report will take weeks, the coroner emphasized the accuracy of the preliminary results. "Somebody's family actually lost a life, and I'm very cognizant of that", Lopinto said. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said Robinson was being pursued for dealing drugs.

Lopinto said Cvitanovich told him of the autopsy report Saturday. The four detectives who arrested involved in the incident have been read their rights and put on administrative leave.

"I understand that this investigation will be under a microscope", Lopinto said. Family attorney Hester Hilliard thanked the coroner's office "for their professionalism and their transparency".

He said Louisiana State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his office will continue to investigate.

Lopinto declined to immediately identify the deputies. He confirmed they're white.

"They were in a fight with this gentleman effecting an arrest", he added. "It's whether the force was excessive".

He told reporters at a news conference Monday that 22-year-old Keeven Robinson's death is classified as a homicide.

"He was a good, respectable child", said Keeven's dad, Steven Jackson.

Some marchers were heard singing "Amazing Grace".

"Today is just as hard as Thursday for this family", Hilliard said.

In Jefferson Parish this week, civil rights activists welcomed the inquiry into Mr. Robinson's death. He fled after spotting detectives while at a gas station, wrecking his vehicle and hopping fences until the four detectives chased him down in a backyard, police said. 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.

A Louisiana coroner says a black suspect who died in a struggle with white police officers last week died of asphyxiation and there was evidence of pressure on his neck.

He said it was too early to conclude whether a choke hold was used during the struggle, adding that Robinson's history of asthma may have played a role in his death. "That doesn't mean our officers did anything wrong, or it may mean that they did something wrong".

"We don't train somebody to hit someone with a brick - but if you're fighting for your life and the brick's there, you hit somebody with the brick".

Lopinto said Monday that Robinson was unarmed when he was detained. The 22-year-old black man, who had a gun in the auto and was suspected of being in possession of heroin, was on the run from the police when he crashed his auto into two Sheriff's Office vehicle.