Notable civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who took on cases regarding the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, is now calling for justice for the family of Dexter Wade.
Wade, 37, was struck and killed by an off-duty Jackson police officer on March 5 while he was crossing the highway on I-55 South near McDowell Road. Wade’s mother, Bettersten Wade, filed a missing person’s report with the police department days later, but never heard anything. She wasn’t able to retrieve the body of her deceased son until early October — 172 days after reporting him missing — when finally being told the information. He had been buried in an unmarked grave at a Hinds County penal farm after his body went unclaimed.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba spoke on the matter at his “State of the City” address last week. The mayor said Bettersten was not contacted because “there was a lack of communication with the missing person’s division, the coroner’s office and accident investigation,” and called it “an unfortunate and tragic incident.”
Mayor addresses death of Dexter Wade: Mayor’s State of the City speech shifts focus to Jackson man killed by off-duty JPD officer
Crump held a news conference with Bettersten, her family and other attorney’s on Monday. He showed a report that said between March and July the coroner’s office called JPD seven times to see if they made contact with the next-of-kin, to which the police department responded no. Crump also said Bettersten had no record of JPD ever calling her.
“It is certainly suspicious…that they (JPD) did not contact her. We don’t know what happened in the accident, but it would have been better to know on March 5,” Crump said. “We would have a little more trust, you would have a little more credibility than six months later.”
Crump said they are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the death because the family “does not have trust in the Mississippi officials.”
Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens released a statement on the incident last week:
“The Hinds County District Attorney’s Office is aware of, and monitoring, the situation surrounding the death of Dexter Wade, the failure to notify to Mr. Wade’s next-of-kind, and the irregularities surrounding the disposition of Mr. Wade’s body. Our office is working with the Jackson Police Department, Hinds County Coroner’s Office, and other relevant agencies to conduct a full review of this matter. We ask for the public’s patience as this important work is undertaken. DA Owens assures the public that this review will be thorough, complete, and, importantly, transparent”
Bettersten Wade Robinson has dealt with this before
This will be the second time Bettersten has had issues with JPD. In January of 2019, her brother, George Robinson, was beaten by three, Black JPD officers. The 62-year-old man was removed from his car, thrown head-first onto the pavement and struck and kicked multiple times in the head and chest. He was arrested and later released from jail. Later that day, he was hospitalized. He died two days later.
The death was ruled a homicide. The state medical examiner found that Robinson died of a subdural hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma to the head, according to Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart.
Three officers were charged with the killing: Lincoln Lampley, Desmond Barney and Anthony Fox. Lampley and Barney had the charges dismissed in 2022, while Fox was sentenced to five years in prison.
Death of George Robinson: 3 police officers charged with second-degree murder in death of George Robinson in Jackson
Robinson filed suit against the city, the three officers involved and the ambulance company who treated George. Robinson hired Jackson lawyer Dennis Sweet in the death of her brother. He will now be on the team for the death of her son.
Earlier this year, Mississippi’s Attorney General Lynn Fitch filed a response in support of the appeal of Fox. She called for the overturning of his conviction based on some medical experts stance that “it does not require great force to cause a subdural hematoma.”
AG Fitch calls for reversal: Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wants reversal ruling of JPD cop Anthony Fox case
Robinson says JPD has “vendetta” against her family
Considering her son’s incident, as well as the incident involving her brother in 2019, Bettersten told reporters on Monday that this looks like JPD has a “vendetta” against her family.
“I asked them (JPD) for help. I went to them first for help and to help me find my son. So, if they knew his name from day one and I filed on day 14 that he was missing, all they had to do was say ‘Mr. Wade is down there in the morgue,” she said.
She believes JPD was hesitant to tell her what happened to her son because of what happened to her brother.
“What other reason would you think? Because we went through six months and they don’t tell me who my son is. Is it hard for them to connect the dots when you got hospital, coroner and missing person reports. That’s three reports with my name, my number, so what would you say? When you look at all that evidence, what would you say?” Bettersten said.
Narcan in Mississippi: See what Mississippi is doing to curb the amount of drug overdoses in the state
Crump reiterated Bettersten’s stance during the press conference, saying “all they had to do was knock on her door.”
“And would you? After what happened to your brother and your child?” Crump said. “How could you have faith that they were going to do right now after they broke your heart so many other times. So we’re talking with the civil rights division to see if they will come in.”
But the first order of business, Crump said, is that the family plans on filing a petition with courts to have Wade exhumed, an independent autopsy performed and a proper funeral.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent family of Dexter Wade
- Howard Levitt: Why a good lawyer never ignores the court of public opinion
- Brian Laundrie's notebook reveals confession in Gabby Petito's death
- Attorneys fight to 'correct' long prison sentence
- Greitens RINO video spurred threats to family, lawyer says
- Judge denies district attorney's request to withdraw John Henry Ramirez's execution date