Family thanks DA’s office for ‘impartial administration of justice’ in indictments of SPD officers in McGlothen death

Louisiana

CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — The family of Tommie McGlothen, Jr. called a news conference Friday afternoon following the indictments of four Shreveport Police officers in his death.

The family’s attorney James Carter of The Cochran Firm did most of the speaking, thanking Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart and his staff “for committing to the impartial administration of justice” in the case.

“I just want to say thank you,” McGlothen’s father said.

“We’re just very thankful for a very professional and objective district attorney who put before the citizens the evidence. And the evidence went where it would logically go,” said Carter. “We’re looking forward to a vigorous prosecution by the district attorney’s office.”

Tommie McGlothen Jr. died in police custody after a videotaped altercation that appears to show Shreveport Police Officers hitting and tasing him. (Kimberly McGlothlen via AP)

Carter also said they are in the process of filing a wrongful death suit against the police department and the officers involved.

“We have cooperated with the District Attorney’s Office throughout the McGlothen investigation,” Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said in a statement released later Friday afternoon. “Now that the Grand Jury’s decision is out, we will allow the legal process to run its proper course. We have adopted additional policies related to excessive use of force to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future. The McGlothen family remains in our thoughts and prayers.” 

Carter also represents the family of Johnathan Jefferson, who he said was “murdered in cold blood by the Bossier City Police Department.”

Jefferson was fatally shot by officers responding to his home on August 8 after his mother called for help getting him to the hospital for mental health treatment.

“And we intend to work from can’t-see morning to can’t-see night to also receive and militate for justice in that case,” said Carter.

“It is a change in America now. We have a different mentality, we have a different approach. It’s a more unified approach than we’ve ever had,” Carter said of the growing protests and calls for racial justice and police reform locally and nationwide.

“So, Dr. King talked about this when he said Black men, white men, Jews and gentiles, we will all come together at one time in the history of this nation, to litigate for justice without regard to race, color, and creed. I think America’s tired of this. Of course, this family is tired of it. And I think we see a new way and a new approach, and we think this is precedent-setting.”

The Caddo Parish Grand Jury returned the indictments on Friday morning against Treona McCarter, Brian Ross, D’Marea Johnson and James LeClare.

McCarter, Ross, Johnson and LeClare are charged with negligent homicide and malfeasance in the April 5 death of 44-year-old McGlothen, following an incident with a homeowner in the 3700 block of Eileen Lane.

McGlothen, who had a known mental condition, died at an area hospital a short time after his detention and arrest by the officers.

In reviewing the case, Caddo Parish Coroner Dr. Todd Thoma determined McGlothen’s death was preventable in that the responding officers should have known McGlothen needed medical treatment.

The officers had, in fact, been notified of McGlothen’s mental condition during the first of three encounters with officers within a short time span. In each encounter, McGlothen exhibited signs he was a mental patient in need of medical treatment.

Dr. Thoma noted McGlothen was not a candidate for incarceration given his medical status. McGlothen’s extended 48-minute, largely unsupervised detention in the back of a police cruiser without medical treatment, as well as the use of excessive force in detaining him, were substantial factors in his death in a process known as excited delirium.

The Coroner’s review led to a Caddo Parish grand jury investigation that was delayed due to the necessity of obtaining all the evidence related to the three encounters McGlothen had with SPD that day, McGlothen’s medical records, as well as a review by experts in the fields of forensic pathology and use of force by police.

Without a medical history, a local forensic pathologist performing the autopsy was constrained in rendering a cause of death, even though he related it to possibly excited delirium. The forensic pathologist deferred the formal cause and manner of death classification for determination by Thoma.

A review by a nationally recognized forensic pathologist confirmed Thoma’s determination of death through excited delirium, but noted that the combination of the physical force used by the officers upon McGlothen and the delay in medical attention caused McGlothen’s death.

Additionally, a nationally known expert in police practices and police use of force with experience involving “in-custody” deaths related to excited delirium noted the officers mishandled McGlothen from the first encounter forward. By the time the SPD officers encountered McGlothen on the third occasion, they knew he was suffering from mental health issues.

In this instance, the SPD officers used excessive force in violation of SPD Taser policy; used excessive use of physical force that was injurious to McGlothen when it was unnecessary; failed to call for medical assistance; and placed McGlothen in the patrol cruiser on his head, limiting his ability to breathe.

Finally, the officers failed to transport McGlothen to the hospital or call for paramedics for transportation to the hospital for care and treatment.

The SPD officers’ violations of use-of-force policy and protective-custody policy demonstrated a reckless disregard for a known risk of harm to McGlothen. These resulted in the indictments for negligent homicide and malfeasance in office.

The four indicted officers were notified they were subjects of the Grand Jury investigation and were given the opportunity to testify. Each chose to testify and three were represented by counsel.

If convicted, each of the officers faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 on each count.

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