Friends, families of 4 who died in custody take to the streets, ask for change

Crime

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Several dozen people took part in a “March for Justice” Saturday afternoon, calling for police reform.

Participants in the march, sponsored by the People’s Promise organization, included friends and families of four men who died in police custody over the past year.

The march, which began in the 1300 block of Hearne Avenue, and ended at Caddo Correctional Center on Forum Drive, was organized to draw attention to the in-custody deaths of Wavey Austin, Anthony Childs, Tommie McGlothen Jr. and Casey Simpson, all of whom died in police custody.

Laura Sabatha, mother of Casey Simpson, who died on March 16 while in custody at Caddo Correctional Center, wants answers, saying she, along with family members are “trying to get transparency to the brutal killings of our family members from the hands of the badge.”

The Caddo Coroner ruled Simpson died from complications from diabetes, and determined Simpson’s manner of death to be natural.  

Breka Peoples, founder of the Peoples Promise organization, said the protest march was organized because law enforcement in the City of Shreveport, as well as Caddo Parish, needs to be changed. “We want change within Shreveport, we want change within Caddo,” she said.

When someone dies in the custody, law enforcement should call for a third-party investigation rather than looking into the cases themselves, Peoples said. “Any in-custody death should have an outside party from Washington D.C. to come in and see what’s going on here.”

Local attorney J. Antonio Florence said residents in Shreveport ought to vote for better elected officials since the ones who are currently in office aren’t doing their job.

“We need to vote them out of office,” he said, adding there are many things that are happening at CCC, which he, as a defense attorney knows about, but no one else does.

“We just want those things to be revealed and to solve them,” Florence said.

Tommie McGlothen Jr.’s son, Tommie McGlothen III, was also at Saturday’s protest seeking justice for his dad, who died as police were serving a warrant.

“He’s a life saver.” McGlothen said of his father.  “I just never thought he would be gone so soon.”

After the marchers reached CCC, several people spoke, including the young McGlothen, who read five list of citizens demands, one of which was, “Screen for bias and discrimination before hiring and reevaluate during training.”

One protestor, Nicole Seamster, held up a sign that reads, “Wavey Austin,” who also died by the hands of police custody, said she is not against police. All she asks is for them to be fair.

“We just them to treat us equally,” she said.

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