“Suicide” Ruling Leads to Public Scrutiny

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The public has continued to discuss the death of 22-year-old Victor White III, who died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the backseat of an Iberia Parish Deputies vehicle. Initial reports stated White shot himself in the back, after being arrested on a drug charge. During the investigation, the coroner determined his fatal gunshot wound was to his chest. After officially ruling the death a suicide, Coroner Carl Ditch released a statement defending his office’s ruling. The statement said, “Although the decedent was handcuffed at the time with his hands to his back, due to his body habitus (type), the pathologist and investigators agree that he would have been able to manipulate the weapon to the point where the contact wound was found.”

Dr. Maranda Kles, a forensic expert with UL Lafayette reviewed the autopsy and coroner’s statement. She explained the bullet entered on the right lateral or side part of the chest and exited on the left. When asked, how it might have been possible for White to maneuver and retrieve the gun, she said, “If there was some give in those handcuffs that allowed for movement in the arms over to the side, movement of the hands it could have been possible.”

Kles referenced the autopsy and explained White could have leaned into the gun while in the backseat.

“One report says anterior/lateral chest which makes me think there would have been a turn to sort of help bring the arms around to the side.”

The wound contained no stippling, or tattooing of unburned gun powder residue.

Kles said, “The farther the gun is away from the body, the larger the spread of that pattern. If you have no stippling, it typically means you have a very close or contact wound which means the gun was pressed against the skin or in very, very close proximity, millimeters from the skin.”

Ditch’s statement said the manner of death was determined to be suicide based on information from the State Police; information that cannot be released until the case if officially closed. State Police will not comment on the case until the conclusion of the investigation, but did state the gun was not an Iberia Parish issued weapon.

White’s family has hired an attorney and want to further investigate their son’s death.

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