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Exclusive: Family and roommate want to know why loved one died in police custody

Jerome Dexter Christmas, or Dexter Jevon Christmas, 44, of the Highland neighborhood in Shreveport, died after a struggle with police.

A Shreveport man is dead after getting involved in a struggle with police Saturday around 6:15 p.m. 


Shreveport Police were responding to an indecent exposure call. The caller stated a man was walking down, shedding his clothes down to his underwear. Shreveport Police said Dexter Christmas, 44 , was physically combative when they approached him, causing officers to struggle with him to get him in handcuffs. 


According to Cpl. Marcus Hines, officers noticed Christmas was not breathing when they  put him in handcuffs. He confirms officers tased Christmas using a dry stun.  The struggle happened in the yard, between two group homes in the 1000 block of Highland Avenue. 


Witnesses said officers used excessive force. 


"The first three cops come out the car and they were saying MF, get on the ground, blah,blah,blah," said Robert, a witness who lives nearby.  "They started jumping on him, and beating him with night sticks, and stuff like that. It was black and white people just jumping on him." 


As many as 14 officers responded, but only four have been put on paid administrative leave for participating in the arrest. 


"It was so excessive," said  They already had him in handcuffs, and they started tasing him and beating him. His hands were behind his back," said Robert.  "It was so excessive and that's a brutal assault on my taxpayer dollars." 


Paramedics treated Christmas at the scene before transporting him to the VA hospital. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. 


"It's hard to believe he's dead," said Terri Stoker, Christmas' roommate of five years.


 "Dexter was six feet, 240 pounds. I don't see why they had to tase him and beat him to begin with. It just doesn't make any sense to me at all. None. I don't think it ever will." 


Stoker said she dropped him off at 5:45 p.m. so he could go to the corner store. He told her he'd walk home in a few minutes. He never returned. Stoker said he appeared fine when she left him. 


"He was a good man and a spiritual man," said Stoker. "A truck driver who loved the road, an Army veteran, and a father of five children."

 

The Caddo Coroner's Office performed an autopsy on Christmas Sunday. Dr. Todd Thoma said preliminary results indicate he had a heatstroke and then went into cardiac arrest while restrained by police. Dr. Thoma said Christmas had a 102 degree fever two hours after his death, and did not have any external evidence of trauma. He further added that Christmas showed no evidence of significant trauma that would have contributed to his death. Toxicology results are pending. The final autopsy results are expected to be released in three to four weeks. 


Christmas grew up in Bunkie, LA. His brother Drake said the funeral will be held there. Drake said the family has many questions. 


"I'm very, very, in shock. I'm in shock, my brothers and sisters are in shock. We want answers," said Drake Christmas.  


Drake said the family was not aware of his death until 2 a.m the following day. They said detectives haven't answered their calls, and they want to see dash cam and police report, as well as learn names of the officers' involved, so they can begin to understand why this happened. 


Shreveport Police are investigating the incident. It will then be turned over to the Caddo District Attorney's Office. Shreveport police also confirm an officer was treated on scene after accidentally tasing themselves. 




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