By Susan Johnes
On Monday, May 14, more than 100 demonstrators in Louisiana marched in remembrance of Keeven Robinson who died last week from injuries he received during a struggle with Jefferson Parish Narcotics Detectives.
Monday night, New Orleans media videos on social media showed marchers carrying signs. One read “Enough is Enough.” Another said, “Justice for Keeven.” Some marchers were heard singing “Amazing Grace.”
The 22-year-old man’s death occurred after a struggle with sheriff’s deputies in what has been classified as a homicide. WWL-TV reports that four agents have been placed on desk duty as the investigation continues.
The community had decided to march on Monday after authorities in Jefferson Parish announced preliminary autopsy results indicating Robinson had signs of trauma from pressure on his neck and that he died of asphyxiation.
Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said the injuries were “consistent with compressional asphyxia.” Cvitanovich added that he had shared the preliminary findings with Robinson’s mother before a joint news conference with Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto.
Hester Hilliard, an attorney for Robinson’s family, said the sheriff and coroner have acted with “professionalism and transparency” but the family desired to see an agency other than the sheriff’s office lead the investigation.
Lopinto declined to identify the deputies immediately, but he confirmed they are white while Robinson was Black.
“There’s no doubt they used force,” Lopinto said. “It’s whether the force was excessive.”
Lopinto said it was too early to tell whether a chokehold was used. But in either case, officers are expressly not forbidden under department policy to use choke holds. At the same time, they aren’t trained in them either.
“From a policy standpoint, we don’t train somebody to hit someone with a brick,” Lopinto told reporters. “But if you’re fighting for your life and brick’s there, you hit someone with a brick.”
Lopinto added that Robinson was unarmed when he was detained, saying that there was a gun in Robinson’s car and that he had heroin on him.
According to WWL-TV, Robinson’s grandmother had simple advice to young Black men.
“We want the young Black men to be able to walk the streets, and when the police do frisk them, they should stand and let the police do their job,” Sheryl Robinson said. “They’re afraid of the police killing our children. It’s time to stop! enough is enough.”