Funeral held for Dexter Wade, Jackson man exhumed from potter’s field, as family alleges ‘cover up’
Written by ABC AUDIO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on November 20, 2023
(JACKSON, Miss.) — The family of Dexter Wade held a funeral on Monday afternoon for the 37-year-old man who was fatally struck by an off-duty police officer in Jackson, Mississippi, on March 5 and was buried in a potter’s field for more than five months before authorities notified his family.
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy for Wade — a father of two — while family attorney Ben Crump will continue to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Jackson Police Department in the wake of Wade’s death.
“I wanted to come for two reasons, Ms. Wade,” Sharpton said, addressing Dexter Wade’s mother, Bettersten Wade Robinson. “I wanted to give words of comfort to the family, but I wanted to give words of discomfort to the state of Mississippi.”
“What happened to Dexter is a disgrace, a national outrage and should be treated as such,” he added. “… His life mattered to his mama, to his daughters and we’re gonna make it matter all over this country.”
The funeral was attended by Wade’s family, including his mother and two daughters, community advocates and Tiffany Carter — the mother of Rasheem Carter, a Black man from Mississippi who went missing in Oct. 2022, and whose partial remains were later found. Carter is also seeking answers about her son’s death.
“I really found [Dexter] for his two girls because they loved him so so much. And I wanted them to know what happened to their dad,” Wade Robinson said. “And right now I thank everybody for just fighting with me. Just keep fighting with me. Because it’s not over yet.”
Wade Robinson accused the county and police of a “cover up” after it took more than five months for her to be informed of her son’s death, despite having reported him missing on March 14 to Jackson police – nine days after she had last heard from him.
Wade Robinson, who told ABC News that she provided her contact information to police and is questioning why they did not inform her of her son’s death and burial until Aug. 24.
“Right now I’m hoping I can get to some kind of answer as to why it happened and what was the reason that it happened. But right now I’m still not satisfied,” Wade Robinson told ABC News Live’s Linsey Davis in an interview that aired Nov. 15 on Prime.
The funeral comes after the family released on Thursday the results of an independent autopsy that contradict city officials’ statements regarding why it took so long for police to notify Wade’s family of his death.
According to Crump, the independent autopsy found that Wade did have a wallet in the front pocket of his jeans when he was killed that contained his state identification card with his home address, his credit card and a health insurance card – a detail he says that directly contradicts a statement made by Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
“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 in a statement on Thursday. “There is no excuse, not even incompetence, for not notifying a next of kin of an identified man’s death.”
Lumumba previously acknowledged during his State of the City address on Oct. 26 that there was a “lack of communication” that led to the monthslong delay in letting Wade’s family know what happened to him and said the delay was, in part, due to Wade having no ID on his person when he was killed.
According to Lumumba, police could not initially identify Wade. He did, however, have a prescription drug bottle that eventually allowed the Hinds County medical examiner’s office to identify him. He also said that when Wade was identified, police had trouble finding the correct contact information for his family.
“The failure was that ultimately, there was a lack of communication with the missing persons division, the coroner’s office and accident investigation,” Lumumba said.
Crump pointed to the missing person’s response that Wade Robinson filed with the Jackson Police Department, where she provided her contact information, and questioned during a press conference on Oct. 30 why police didn’t visit Wade Robinson’s home to inform her of her son’s death.
“If they really wanted to notify her that the police officer had hit and killed her son when he crossed the street, they could have came and knocked on the door. It defies all logic and common sense,” Crump said.
ABC News has reached out to the Hinds County Coroner’s Office to inquire about the results of the county autopsy and the circumstances that led the medical examiner to identify Wade, but requests for comment were not returned.
ABC News has also reached out to the city of Jackson and the mayor’s office following the release of findings of the independent autopsy report.
A spokesperson for the Jackson Police Department previously declined to comment to ABC News when asked about Wade’s death and the circumstances that led to the delay in informing his family.
During the mayor’s State of the City address, Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade — who is no relation to Dexter Wade — offered his condolences to Wade’s family.
“I cannot imagine the pain that they’re feeling,” the police chief said. “I put measures in place to make sure something like this does not happen on my watch. I’ve also put the right people in place to make sure this does not happen on my watch.”
The independent autopsy report also found, according to Crump, that Wade’s body was not embalmed and was in an advanced state of decomposition when he was exhumed last week. It also found that his left leg was severed and he had multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs, and pelvis.
Lumumba said in his address on Oct. 26 that “at no point have we identified, nor did any investigation reveal that there was any police misconduct in this process.”
“The accident was investigated and it was determined that it was, in fact, an accident, and that there was no malicious intent,” he added.
The office of Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said in a statement on Oct. 27 that his office was working with the Jackson Police Department, Hinds County Coroner’s Office and other relevant agencies to investigate Wade’s death, the failure to notify his next of kin in a timely manner and the “irregularities surrounding the disposition of Mr. Wade’s body.”
“We ask for the public’s patience as this important work is undertaken,” Owens added.
ABC News reached out to Owens’ office to inquire about the status of the investigation, but a request for comment was not immediately returned.
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