Justice for Robert Ricks

Parish: Rapides

Law Enforcement Agency: Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office

My name is Destiny Jones. I am a 33-year-old African-American woman. I lost my youngest brother to police brutality.  My brother had a history of mental illness and died an untimely death because instead of receiving the medical care he needed, he was instead arrested, beaten and killed in police custody. I am choosing to tell my story because unfortunately police misconduct and unfair treatment of African-Americans is not new but I am hoping that as more of us speak up it will go a long way to preventing another untimely death of another African-American in Louisiana and elsewhere. Also, the police need to understand how to deal with the mentally ill and all people, including African-Americans, need to feel it is safe to call for medical help.

On February 6, 2011, my grandmother called an ambulance for my brother, Robert, who was experiencing a seizure related to medication he was taking. My brother had a long history of mental health issues having been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia and just days before his untimely death had been released from Crossroads Regional Hospital.  Robert had undressed and gotten into the bath in an attempt to calm himself down. When the ambulance arrived, Robert refused to be transported to the hospital and the EMTs called for the Alexandria Police Department even though it was clear he needed medical help. My grandmother tried to convince Robert to get in the ambulance and go to the hospital but he refused.  When the police arrived Robert still refused to go to the hospital. He reached for my grandmother for comfort and they fell. The police then struck and tasered him multiple times. He had bruises on his face and was bleeding from the mouth. The police handcuffed him and forced him into a police car. They repeatedly knee struck him because Robert was unable to slide into the backseat of the police car. The police told my grandmother he was being taken to the hospital.  That was the last time his family saw him alive.  Instead of receiving the medical care he needed, Robert was taken to the Rapides Parish jail where he died in police custody.

In the jail, Robert remained handcuffed in his underwear with his legs shackled. I can only imagine the fear he experienced while there. He was sweating and shaking. Still no medical care was provided. Instead, he was assaulted by 8-10 policemen who left him face down in his cell. The deputy, now current sheriff, of the Rapides Parish Sheriff Department kicked Robert in the head when he was on the ground. Robert died face down, naked in a cell without ever receiving the medical care which my grandmother had sought for him. He only made it to the hospital after he died.

My family and I are not seeking monetary compensation for the circumstances surrounding Robert’s passing. We just want answers.  We remain heartbroken about Robert’s passing and these feelings are continuously amplified by the lack of information surrounding the true circumstances of his death.  The people whose job it is to protect us, failed Robert.  He should not have been put into the holding cell in the condition which he was in.   He should not have been tasered and kicked and left shackled on the floor face down when, what he really needed was medical attention.  My family and I just want the truth to be heard.  We want change.

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