GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - At a vigil Friday, Debra Guillory said her son, Kendole Joseph, 27, was murdered at the hands of Gretna Police, and she claimed the department is covering up what happened.
Joseph died after an encounter with officers in February. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson said his officers did nothing wrong when they were involved in a seven-minute struggle with Joseph inside the Sav-A-Dollar convenience store on Gretna Boulevard on Feb. 7.
The family responded by saying if everything was done correctly, the video of the struggle should be released.
"Just tell the truth," Debra Guillory said. "Tell what really happened and release the video. That will tell the truth."
The entire struggle was caught on the store's video surveillance, but Gretna investigators took the system's hard drive and replaced it with a new one, according to the store owner.
"Look at that picture. He was beaten and no telling what else happened to him," said Joseph's stepfather, Charles Guillory.
"We want justice for this. All officers who were involved need to be held accountable for my son's murder," Debra Guillory said.
The family said Joseph was a paranoid schizophrenic, but he was not violent.
Lawson said Joseph was acting erratically and off his medication when officers confronted him outside the store. Officers said Joseph ran into the store, jumped over the counter and then resisted for seven minutes.
Officers dry-stunned Joseph once and tased him the chest another time. After he was subdued, officers put Joseph in their police unit.
The police report says "a short time later" Joseph was found unconscious in the back of the cruiser. Emergency crews on scene performed CPR and rushed him to the hospital. He died two days later.
The family's attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, said Joseph had a history with Gretna police.
"He went behind the counter to hide from the police because he was afraid of them. He was afraid they were going to beat him, and he told someone I'm afraid they are going to kill me. The Gretna Police Department knew Kendole because they had tased him before. They tased him so severely in the past that he suffered kidney damage and spent a month in the hospital. On February 7th, they beat him as you can see from the pictures. They tased him, threw him in the back of the police car and they finally took him to the hospital, where he died," Oppenheimer said.
The officers involved in the struggle with Joseph have not been disciplined and remain on street duty.
Lawson said he is awaiting Joseph's autopsy results, which will be released in May, to complete the investigation. Lawson promises to release the video once the investigation is complete.
The New Black Panther Party is planning a protest at noon Saturday over Joseph's death in front of the police department on Fifth Street.