Black Man Died From Asphyxiation in Louisiana Arrest, Coroner Finds

Frederick Owens
May 16, 2018

Keeven Robinson, 22, died Thursday at a Jefferson Parish hospital following a vehicle chase with deputies who said he was a suspect in a narcotics investigation.

According to reports, Robinson's death was caused by "significant" trauma to his neck consistent with compressional asphyxia, Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said in a press conference Monday (May 14) Cvitanovich also said he delivered the news to Robinson's mother prior to informing the press "At this point, the manner of death is homicide".

Robinson, left, had reportedly been the target of an undercover drug investigation and was suspected of dealing narcotics, according to police.

The NAACP released a list of demands concerning 22-year-old Robinson's death in the back yard of a home near Labarre and Jefferson Highway in Old Jefferson. "So we ask the public and everyone to pray with this family that they will be strong ... and that justice will come for Keeven".

Ryan Jackson, who was shot by Jefferson Parish deputies during a drug investigation a year ago, recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the sheriff's office, the Advocate reported.

"Today is just as hard as Thursday for this family", Hilliard said. The sudden, tire-squealing approach of non-uniformed men with guns can be hard to distinguish from a robbery or carjacking attempting, and numerous high-profile incidents involving plainclothes cops suggest that people respond differently than officers are trained to expect when the cops who approach them aren't in uniform. However, she also said the family would like to see an agency other than the sheriff's office lead the investigation.

Keevan Robinson died last week after he was apprehended by detectives of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

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

When Robinson noticed the agents, who wore badges, approaching him, he attempted to drive off, but jumped from his auto about a block away after running into two sheriff's vehicles.

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.

Robinson was not armed, though Sheriff Lopinto said a gun was found in his vehicle. "That doesn't mean our officers did anything wrong, or it may mean that they did something wrong". Lopinto said the question for investigators is whether plain-clothes narcotics officers used excessive force. "They are grieving, and today they had to find out that Keeven lost his life at the hands of another".

"They're killing the children", Robinson's grandmother, Sheryl, told reporters.

Hester Hilliard, an attorney for Robinson's family, said the sheriff and coroner have acted with "professionalism and transparency". "We're here to support all sides", Spiller said.

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