SHREVEPORT, La. – Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond could not speak to the specifics of an active investigation surrounding Tommie McGlothen, Jr.’s death, but he did go on-the-record about why it took two months to place four officers on leave and what could have been done differently.
McGlothen was found unresponsive in the back of a Shreveport police vehicle April 5 and died in the early morning hours of April 6.
KTBS broke the news of McGlothen’s death in police custody on May 29.
“I hate to use the word ‘oversight’ because it sounds like I’m being – like it’s not important to me. It’s extremely important. I’m upset about it,” Raymond said Wednesday. “I take the blame for it that we should have put that information out sooner. But we were literally in the middle of Covid-19, this was like the fourth week – maybe the third week of phase one. And the majority of my days – 20-hour days—were being spent in how are we dealing with Covid-19.”
KTBS learned Wednesday through a request of public records the names of the four officers who responded to the April 5 call that led to a scuffle with McGlothen before he was placed under arrest.
The callers on Eileen Lane had accused McGlothen of breaking into a car.
Officers Treona McCarter, Brian Ross, D’marea Johnson and James Leclare were placed on unpaid administrative leave on June 8 amid public outcry over the case.
When asked if those officers would still be working had the news of McGlothen’s death not been leaked, Raymond said, “That’s hard to say. They were put on leave primarily because them being at work was affecting the efficient operation of the police department more than anything else. And what I mean by that is, there’s been such an outcry about these incidents because there’s a lot of false information to be perfectly honest. We haven’t been able to clarify a lot of inaccuracies because it is an open investigation.”
The Caddo Parish coroner called McGlothen’s death was “natural” but “preventable,” attributing the cause of death to a condition called excited delirium.
James Carter, the McGlothen family attorney has publicly disputed the coroner’s findings, calling excited delirium “a pseudo science.”
Raymond told KTBS Wednesday that he is looking to implement additional mental health training requirements for his officers, including training on excited delirium.
“Not only recognizing the symptoms, but then what? Now that we recognize them, then what do we need to do next,” Raymond explained.
Carter told KTBS that he has not had any direct contact with the Shreveport Police Department.
“We're still in a, in a situation where life has devalued where in the first instance, individuals did not feel that it was necessary to provide information to the district attorney's office in a timely manner, that the law enforcement officers who were involved in his untimely death were not placed on leave and are fired or any type of disciplinary actions at all,” Carter said. “I don't have any relief. The only relief we're going to get is at some point where this man is truly illuminated, all facts are revealed, and we're able to get justice under the law.”
Carter said he has been working with the Caddo Parish district attorney, who is still considering whether to charge the four officers with a crime.
“The district attorney has been open and transparent, and has treated the McGlothen family with human respect and dignity and decency, so I do appreciate that,” Carter said. “Hopefully we will have, eventually, some place and time in a society where all law enforcement acts in that way as protectors, rather than those who see the public as enemies.”