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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana Settles Lawsuits over 2018 Choking Death of Keeven Robinson

Robinson's widow and mother have settled lawsuits with a sheriff's office in Louisiana

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Kiwanda Robinson, center, mother of Keeven Robinson, holds family friends Madysen Johnson, right, and her sister Morgan Johnson, at the start of a solidarity march for Keeven in Jefferson Parish, La., Monday, May 14, 2018.
Kiwanda Robinson, center, mother of Keeven Robinson, holds family friends Madysen Johnson, right, and her sister Morgan Johnson, at the start of a solidarity march for Keeven in Jefferson Parish, La., Monday, May 14, 2018.
Photo: Gerald Herbert (AP)

A sheriff’s office in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana settled on federal civil rights lawsuits over the death of 22-year-old Keeven Robinson, who was choked during a tussle with undercover narcotic officers, according to NOLA.com.

As a Jan. 10 trial date was set, court records show the agreements with the sheriff’s office led to the dismissal of the lawsuits. The settlements were with Robinson’s widow, Wachelle Boutte, and his mother, Kiwanda Robinson.

Since 2018, relatives have been protesting and calling for justice, but their demands and cries grew in 2020 after George Floyd was killed by officers in Minneapolis, which created an international movement.

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From NOLA.com:

Keeven Robinson, 22, died on May 10, 2018, after detectives, acting on a tip from a drug informant, tried to arrest him at a Shell gas station at Jefferson Highway and Labarre Place. He sped off, crashed, then ran through several backyards as deputies chased, authorities said.

Minutes later, Robinson was dead. An autopsy report classified it as a homicide, finding that Robinson died of compressional asphyxia after suffering “significant injuries to the neck.”

District Attorney Paul Connick’s office investigated, then announced last year that it would not seek criminal charges against detectives Justin Brister, Gary Bordelon, David Lowe and Jason Spadoni. Connick said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the deputies committed a crime.

“Our investigation determined that Robinson’s death occurred while he was resisting a lawful arrest by JPSO agents who were acting in the course and scope of their employment as law enforcement officers and under circumstances where the force used to counter his resistance was legally justified,” a report from Connick’s office found.

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According to the autopsy report, pathologists determined that deputies did not use a lethal chokehold on Robinson the night of his death. Based on the injuries he sustained, an expert on police use-of-force also concluded that the force used on Robinson was not excessive, according to NOLA.com.

According to the story, the lawsuits filed named Sheriff Joe Lopinto’s office and four deputies involved in the death of Robinson. They alleged excessive force and failure to train.

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Boutte’s attorney, Clarence Roby Jr., declined to specify the terms of the settlement for his client.

“What is ever enough?” he asked. “There’s no amount of money that’s going to ever replace a loved one. It’s not going to bring them back. It’s not going to fill the void of a young mother with a young child who lost a father.”

Kiwanda Robinson came upon the gruesome scene of her son’s death. Her lawsuit claimed damages for mental anguish and emotional distress. One of her attorneys, Michael Hall, also declined to discuss the settlement terms.

“This doesn’t replace the hole that she has for her deceased son,” Hall said.

Sheriff Lopinto’s office is facing backlash because of other allegations of force against Black people.

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According to reporting from WWNO-FM and ProPublica, 70 percent of people who Jefferson Parish deputies shot during the past eight years were Black, as were 12 of 16 people who died after being shot or restrained by deputies. And that’s even though the Black population makes up only 28 percent of the total population, per NOLA.com.