SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The attorney for the family of Tommie McGlothen, Jr. is calling for the immediate firing of the Shreveport police officers involved and for full transparency from the police department and all agencies involved in the investigation into his death.
Attorney James Carter is also calling for the citizen who recorded witness video of the violent encounter to provide it in full to the family and investigators.
McGlothen was 44 years old when he died after he was taken into custody by Shreveport police on April 5, 2020.
Carter says his firm, which was founded by famed trial attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., will be conducting its own independent investigation into the deadly incident. The Cochran Firm specializes in personal injury, criminal defense, police misconduct, civil rights, and medical malpractice.
Carter was joined by McGlothen’s family members on the steps of the Caddo Parish courthouse late Wednesday morning for a news conference in which they also demanded that the officers be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law” and that all agencies involved in the investigation turn over records including the 911 report, the full autopsy report and the police department’s initial report.
The Caddo coroner Dr. Todd Thoma released a statement Tuesday said McGlothen’s death was natural, caused by excited delirium, but could possibly have been prevented. The reported noted that officers used Tasers, mace, and nightsticks to control McGlothen, who was agitated and combative and had already fought with a homeowner in the 3700 block of Eileen Lane late on the evening of April 5.
Police arrived after McGlothen blocked a driveway, followed the homeowner inside his house, mumbling incoherently and exhibiting signs of paranoia and emotional disturbance before the altercation with the homeowner, according to police. The coroner said he was left unattended in the back of a patrol car for 45 minutes after his arrest before he was found unresponsive and not breathing.
Carter said during the news conference Wednesday that they had still not seen the coroner’s autopsy report, only media coverage of the coroner’s statement. But he did call the coroner’s finding that McGlothen died from excited delirium “pseudoscience” and “junk science, used to justify the killing of folks in police custody,” noting that all too often, those who are killed are people of color.
“Dr. King stated that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and we are tired in this country of black life being snuffed out by those who are here supposedly to protect us,” said Carter.
The attorney said Tommie McGlothen, Jr. was known to have suffered from schizophrenia and depression, and that the officers responding to the call should have been able to recognize his mental illness and respond appropriately.
“There are procedures that are supposed to happen didn’t happen and it resulted in the tragic death of Tommie McGlothen.”
Carter pointed to witness video broadcast Tuesday on local television as evidence of the real cause of McGlothen’s death.
“I think Ray Charles can see in that video, the cause of death. This is why we are calling upon the head of the police department the city officials who have control of the justice system in this community, to immediately get rid of these cops. We don’t care about the so-called procedures. A blind man can see what happened here. We know one thing, that at 5 o’clock the day before, Mr. McGlothen was alive, as witnessed by many of the family members. Within ten hours, at 2:30 a.m. the next morning, he was dead, and the only intervening affair is that he had this violent encounter with law enforcement.”
Carter also urged the citizen who has that video to turn it over to his office, as well as to police and the DA’s office.
“We want to make sure that the possessor of the full raw footage of this entire incident produces that information to us and law enforcement so that we can go forth and continue to do what we need to do to prosecute this case in a proper manner.”
Carter said he fears a cover-up.
“It should be homicide. Murder. We know that,” Carter said. “We believe that this was a homicide committed by law enforcement. … It is not how our justice system is supposed to work.”
When asked about plans for civil litigation, Carter responded, “It’s coming.”
The Caddo District Attorney’s Office is reviewing both cases and last week took the unusual step of issuing an appeal to the public for video, eyewitness accounts and other information on both cases while also suggesting the information turned over to the DA’s office by the police department was delayed and incomplete.
The family says they are “pleased with the work so far of the district attorney’s office,” which has met with them and treated them with respect and the investigation with urgency.
McGlothen’s father, Tommie McGlothen, Sr., spoke briefly at the news conference.
“I heard on the news that they passed a law or something, they’re gonna put stickers on their cars, ‘to serve and protect.’ Did they do that for my son? No! And we don’t want stickers. We want justice.”
“We have a hole in our heart and in our family that will never be filled again. And I want justice for my brother,” said his sister Laquita.
All four officers involved in the encounter with McGlothen remained on active duty in the police department until Monday, when witness video of it was broadcast on a local television station. The officers, who have not been named, were placed on leave that afternoon.
Raymond said the decision to place the officers on leave was made “because their continued service during the investigation was beginning to have an effect on the efficient operation of the police department.”
Family members and community activists have been demanding answers and accountability from the city and from the police department in the deaths of both McGlothen and Wavey Austin, who also died while in police custody in an incident on April 19, 2020.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Adrian Perkins told members of the Shreveport City Council that he has a number of concerns surrounding McGlothen’s death after reviewing the coroner’s report and announced that, moving forward, the Shreveport police and fire departments will provide more extensive training for excited delirium and other psychiatric conditions.