Louisiana police first confronted Ervin Edwards because they were responding to a call that he had been arguing with his girlfriend at a gas station.
But the argument was over by the time they had arrived.
So Port Allen police began hassling him about his sagging pants, which is illegal in that city thanks to a clearly unconstitutional 2007 city ordinance.
But when they moved in to arrest him, he pulled away, thinking the Constitution applied to him.
“Why am I going to jail? I didn’t do anything,” he asked.
Not only did he end up in jail, he ended up dead. Lying facedown on a cold cell floor after several guards piled on top of him in that typical smothering “safety restraint” style that leaves so many people suffocated.
The West Baton Rouge Jail guards then left the 38-year-old man laying on his stomach in his underwear, his pants strewn outside the cell, for it was never about the pants, but about the power.
Then more than ten minutes went by before they entered the cell and pretended to care about his life with one guard kicking at his feet as it to tell him to snap out of the beating.
It was November 26, 2013 and an autopsy later classified as “undetermined,” a result of “acute cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication in association with restraint by law enforcement” – a common diagnostic for similar deaths around the country, allowing law enforcement officers to not accept liability for needlessly taking somebody’s life.
Edwards’ family has filed a lawsuit and the U.S. Department of Justice may now be investigating. Or may be not, depending on whom you believe.
Col. Richie Johnson, a West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said an internal review of the events that occurred before and after Edwards’ death did not reveal any criminal wrongdoing by any of the officers involved in the incident.
The Sheriff’s Office has since turned over the findings of its investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Johnson said, and he declined to comment further about the incident because of pending litigation.
A message left Friday with the Department of Justice communications office was not returned. Representatives of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Louisiana’s Middle District said they could not comment about whether they were involved in the investigation, nor could they comment about whether such an investigation existed.
As busy as the United States Department of Justice is lately, it might just be waiting to see the public outrage about this case before making a decision to investigate.