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Family asks DOJ to investigate after man was killed by police cruiser then buried in ‘pauper field’ without their knowledge

The family of a Mississippi man who was fatally struck by a Jackson Police Department cruiser in March – but who only found out about it six months later, after he had been buried – want his body exhumed and independently autopsied, and for the Department of Justice to investigate.

Dexter Wade, 37, was reported missing by his mother on March 14 but she did not receive word that he was deceased until August 24.

The Jackson Police Department, who confirmed that Wade was struck by a department vehicle, claimed there was no ill-intent in delaying the next-of-kin notification.

“While this is a very tragic and unfortunate accident, our investigation found no malicious intent by any Jackson police staff,” the City of Jackson said in a statement to CNN.

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, center, speaks alongside the family of Dexter Wade during a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 30, 2023. - WAPT
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, center, speaks alongside the family of Dexter Wade during a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 30, 2023. - WAPT

“On March 5th, 2023, officers were dispatched to I-55 South, where there were reports of an accident involving a pedestrian. The victim died, however, officers were unable to identify him at the time. Days later, the coroner’s office was able to identify the victim as Dexter Wade by way of medication found in his pocket” the statement from police reads.


Jackson police said its efforts to notify Wade’s family were stymied by outdated contact information. The police statement reads, “contact information for Mr.
wade was outdated, and neither the coroner’s office nor investigating officers were able to make contact with Mr. Wade’s family.”

Police acknowledge investigators failed to connect a missing persons report with Wade’s death. The police statement reads, “missing persons officers did not know that the pedestrian victim from March 5th was the same person reported missing March 14th.”

“Our sincerest prayers and condolences go out to the Wade family in the death of their loved one” the Jackson police statement reads.

Wade’s mother, however, is dubious about that sincerity.

“I asked them for help,” Bettersten Wade said. “Time after time, they told me they couldn’t find nothing. If (the authorities) knew his name from day one, and I filed on day 14 that he was missing, all they had to do was say, ‘Mr. Wade is down in the morgue.’”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Wade family, said Monday that he planned to file a petition to have Wade’s body exhumed from the “pauper’s field” where he’d been buried.

Crump said in a news release that Wade’s current grave is marked “by a pole and number” in the field. Crump said after Wade’s body is exhumed, they would facilitate an independent autopsy and then “provide him with a proper funeral and burial.”

“We are never going to let Dexter Wade be swept under the rug,” Crump said.

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