Rev. Al Sharpton has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Jackson, Mississippi police department following allegations of a cover-up in the death of Dexter Wade, a Black man. Wade, 37, died in March after being run over by a police officer. Shockingly, he was buried in a pauper’s grave on a penal farm without his mother’s knowledge. She was only informed of his death six months later, despite the coroner having identified Wade and his next of kin during the autopsy.
In a statement, Sharpton expressed his deep concern over the case, describing it as one of the most disturbing incidents he has ever heard of. He criticized the off-duty officer’s fatal strike on a Black man with an official vehicle, as well as the department’s alleged inability to locate Wade’s next of kin while his mother desperately sought answers. Sharpton asserted that the details of the case clearly indicate a cover-up.
Sharpton called for the DOJ to investigate not only Wade’s death and burial but also the overall procedures, tactics, and culture within the Jackson Police Department. He emphasized the need to scrutinize the entire department, stating that a single incident should not be viewed in isolation.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, in his recent State of the City address, attributed Wade’s burial to a “communications failure.” While acknowledging the tragedy and the family’s pain, Lumumba stated that there were no indications of malicious intent against Wade or his family. He expressed regret over the circumstances that Wade’s family had to endure.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Wade’s family, has also called for a DOJ investigation. Crump referred to the case as a “cop killing cover-up” and announced plans to arrange for Wade’s body to be exhumed for an independent autopsy. He vowed to continue fighting until justice is served for Dexter Wade.
The calls for a DOJ investigation come in the wake of the murder of Tyre Nichols, another Black man, less than a year ago. Sharpton and Crump argue that the Jackson Police Department’s alleged actions in Wade’s case demonstrate a pattern of law enforcement brutality against Black individuals and a subsequent attempt to conceal the truth.
The DOJ has yet to respond to the calls for an investigation into the Jackson Police Department.