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Funeral set for Dexter Wade, Jackson man exhumed from potter’s field, as family alleges ‘cover up’

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(NEW YORK) — The family of Dexter Wade is set to hold a funeral on Monday afternoon for the 37-year-old man, who was fatally struck by an off-duty police officer in Jackson, Mississippi, on March 5 and was buried in a potter’s field for more than five months before authorities notified his family.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to deliver the eulogy for Wade, while family attorney Ben Crump will continue to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Jackson Police Department in the wake of Wade’s death.

Wade’s mother, Bettersten Wade Robinson, accused the county and police of a “cover up” after it took more than five months for her to be informed of her son’s death, despite having reported him missing on March 14 to Jackson police – nine days after she had last heard from him.

Wade Robinson, who told ABC News that she provided her contact information to police and is questioning why they did not inform her of her son’s death and burial until Aug. 24.

“Right now I’m hoping I can get to some kind of answer as to why it happened and what was the reason that it happened. But right now I’m still not satisfied,” Wade Robinson told ABC News Live’s Linsey Davis in an interview that aired Nov. 15 on Prime.

“It’s a steady cover up,” she added.

The funeral comes after the family released on Thursday the results of an independent autopsy that contradict city officials’ statements regarding why it took so long for police to notify Wade’s family of his death.

According to Crump, the independent autopsy found that Wade did have a wallet in the front pocket of his jeans when he was killed that contained his state identification card with his home address, his credit card, and a health insurance card – a detail that directly contradicts a statement made by Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

“The fact that Dexter had a state identification card and several other identifying items shows us that there was a concerted effort to keep the truth and manner of his death from his family,” Crump said in a statement on Thursday. “There is no excuse, not even incompetence, for not notifying a next of kin of an identified man’s death.”

Lumumba previously acknowledged during his State of the City address on Oct. 26 that there was a “lack of communication” that led to the months-long delay in letting Wade’s family know what had happened to him and said that the delay was, in part, due to Wade having no ID on his person when he was killed.

According to Lumumba, police could not initially identify Wade. He did, however, have a prescription drug bottle that eventually allowed the Hinds County medical examiner’s office to identify him.

“The failure was that ultimately, there was a lack of communication with the missing persons division, the coroner’s office and accident investigation,” Lumumba said.

ABC News has reached out to the Hinds County Coroner’s Office to inquire about the results of the county autopsy and the circumstances that led the medical examiner to identify Wade, but requests for comment were not returned.

ABC News has also reached out to the city of Jackson and the mayor’s office following the release of findings of the independent autopsy report.

A spokesperson for the Jackson Police Department previously declined to comment to ABC News when asked about Wade’s death and the circumstances that led to the delay in informing his family.

During the mayor’s State of the City address, Jackson Police Chief Joseph Wade — who is no relation to Dexter Wade — offered his condolences to Wade’s family.

“I cannot imagine the pain that they’re feeling,” the police chief said. “I put measures in place to make sure something like this does not happen on my watch. I’ve also put the right people in place to make sure this does not happen on my watch.”

The independent autopsy report also found, according to Crump, that Wade’s body was not embalmed and was in an advanced state of decomposition when he was exhumed last week. It also found that his left leg was amputated and he had multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs, and pelvis.

Lumumba said in his address on Oct. 26 that “at no point have we identified, nor did any investigation reveal that there was any police misconduct in this process.”

“The accident was investigated and it was determined that it was, in fact, an accident, and that there was no malicious intent,” he added.

The office of Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said in a statement on Oct. 27 that his office was working with the Jackson Police Department, Hinds County Coroner’s Office, and other relevant agencies to investigate Wade’s death, the failure to notify his next of kin in a timely manner and the “irregularities surrounding the disposition of Mr. Wade’s body.”

“We ask for the public’s patience as this important work is undertaken,” Owens added.

ABC News reached out to Owens’ office to inquire about the status of the investigation, but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

 

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