Dexter Wade is pictured during a news conference on October 30, 2023 in Jackson, Mississippi.
The family of a Mississippi man who was struck by a Jackson Police Department cruiser in March — but only learned about it six months later, after he was buried — wants his body exhumed, an independent autopsy performed, and a Justice Department investigation.
Dexter Wade, 37, was reported missing by his mother on March 14, but it wasn’t until August 24 that she received word that he was dead.
The Jackson Police Department, which confirmed Wade was hit by a department vehicle, said there was no ulterior motive in delaying next of kin notification.
“While this is a very tragic and unfortunate accident, our investigation did not reveal any malicious intent by any Jackson police officers,” the city of Jackson said in a statement to CNN.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump speaks with the family of Dexter Wade during a news conference on October 30, 2023 in Jackson, Mississippi.
“On March 5, 2023, officers were dispatched to I-55 South for reports of an accident involving a pedestrian. The victim was pronounced dead, but could not be identified at the time. “A few days later, the coroner’s office was able to identify the victim as Dexter Wade through drugs found in his pocket,” the police report said.
Jackson police said efforts to contact Wade’s family were hampered by outdated contact information. The police report says, “Mr.
Wade had expired, and the coroner or coroners had not heard from Mr. Wade’s family could not be reached.
Police acknowledged that investigators failed to connect the missing persons report to Wade’s death. The police report states, “The missing persons officers did not know that the pedestrian victim from March 5th was the same person who went missing on March 14th.”
“Our sincere prayers and condolences go out to the Wade family on the loss of their loved one,” a Jackson police statement said.
However, Wade’s mother is suspicious of that sincerity.
“I asked them for help,” Peterston Wade said. “After a while, they told me they couldn’t find anything. If (authorities) knew his name from day one, if I filed him missing on the 14th, all they had to do was say, ‘Mr. Wade is down at the morgue.’
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Wade family, said Monday he plans to file a motion to exhume Wade’s body from the “popper’s field” where he was buried.
Crump said in a news release that Wade’s current grave is marked with “a pole and a number” in the field. After Wade’s body is exhumed, Crump said, they will facilitate an independent autopsy and then “give him a proper funeral and burial.”
“We’re never going to let Dexter Wade be swept under the rug,” Crump said.