Lawyer: Man Killed by Cop Car Had ID but Family Wasn't Told

Alabama man Dexter Wade was buried in pauper's grave
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2023 11:44 AM CST
Lawyer Accuses Cops of Covering Up Black Man's Death
Bettersten Wade wipes away tears Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A man struck and killed by a Jackson, Mississippi, police vehicle in March had his ID in his pocket when he was buried in a pauper's grave, his family's lawyer says. Dexter Wade, 37, was reported missing by mother Bettersten Wade on March 14. She spent months searching for her son but wasn't informed until August 27 that he had died less than an hour after he left their home on March 9. Wade's remains were exhumed this week and attorney Ben Crump said an independent pathologist found Wade's wallet in his front pocket, with a state identification card that had his address on it, NBC News reports.

"The fact that Dexter had a state identification card and several other identifying items shows us that there was a concerted effort to keep the truth and manner of his death from his family," Crump said. "There is no excuse, not even incompetence, for not notifying a next of kin of an identified man's death." The attorney urged the federal Department of Justice to investigate the death and how it was handled, the AP reports. Wade was hit by the police SUV while walking across Interstate 55 and the death was ruled accidental. A coroner's office investigator said he didn't find identification but confirmed his identity—and that of his next of kin—from a name on a prescription pill bottle. Officials have said the failure to notify Wade's mother was the result of an accidental breakdown in communication.

Wade was buried on the grounds of the Hinds County penal farm. Crump said Thursday that the autopsy found that Wade, whose body was "completely run over" by the police vehicle, had not been embalmed and his left leg had been amputated, reports. Wade was exhumed Monday. Crump said family members had agreed that the body would be exhumed at 11:30am, but they arrived at the site to discover the exhumation had happened hours earlier. "They put him in the ground without my permission. They dug him up without my permission," his mother said. Authorities said there had been another miscommunication. "How many mistakes you can have before you take responsibility?" Bettersten Wade told ABC News. (More Alabama stories.)

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