Keeven Robinson was unarmed and in the custody of 4 white Jefferson Parish, Louisiana police officers when he was killed by asphyxiation due to pressure applied to his neck last Thursday.
NBC News reported the 22-year-old’s death has now been classified as a homicide, suggesting traumatic neck injuries “consistent with compressional asphyxia,” Jefferson Parish Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said.
The official autopsy report will take weeks, but the Cvitanovich emphasized that the preliminary report is accurate. “I don’t want to delay disclosure regarding the direction in which we’re heading from Mr. Robinson’s family, the sheriff’s department or the media,” Cvitanovich said.
The 4 officers involved in Robinson’s killing have been put on administrative duty and the Jefferson Parish police department asked Louisiana State Police and the FBI civil rights task force to join the investigation.
Hester Hilliard, an attorney for the Robinson’s family, said the autopsy result made them feel even worse.
“They had to find out Keeven lost his life at the hands of another, and that’s very, very hard for them,” she said. “And now they have to move on to making funeral arrangements for this 22-year-old, who should not have died.”
Thursday, at the scene of the killing, Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said there was “no indication” that deputies had choked Robinson. He even pointed out Robinson’s history of asthma and that air quality was poor. “It appears to be probably asthma-related,” he said, obviously mistaken.
Cvitanovich noted that it would be up to police and prosecutors to determine if a crime had been committed.
Gaylor Spiller, president of the NAACP’s Jefferson Parish chapter, was pleased at the sheriff’s quick response to the autopsy results.
“I find him to be a decent, honorable sheriff,” Spiller said. “He has not let me down yet and I don’t feel like he will let me down now. The NAACP is not behind criminal actions, we do not represent criminals. You do the crime, you do the time. But one thing we will not stand for is the killing of an individual.”
The sheriff’s department does not use body cameras or dash cameras, so no video will be available from the authorities.