GRETNA- A family is demanding the Gretna Police Department release evidence in the death of their loved one. The mother of a mentally ill man says he was tased and beaten by members of the department.
The family is now planning to take legal action.
Black eyes and a swollen lip are just some of the injuries Kendole Joseph's family says he suffered at the hands of Gretna Police.
"It didn't even look like Kendole," Kendole Joseph's mother Debra Guillory said.
The incident occurred Feb. 7. Guillory says her son, who was paranoid schizophrenic, was behaving erratically on the street. She says she went home and called authorities.
"I called them and told them my son is paranoid schizophrenic. I said he is on Manhattan, and I don't want him to get hurt cause you know he was crossing the highway, and I don't want him to get hurt," Guillory said.
Hours later Guillory says she got a knock on her door from an investigator. She says he entered and began looking at her son's medication.
"He stood up and said, 'Well we came into contact with your son. And, he was at Gretna school and he had crossed over to the store.' He said the last call I got, they were doing chest compressions on him and he's on his way to the hospital," Guillory said.
When they got to the hospital, the family could not believe what they saw.
"His face was all swollen. His eyes were swole. He had scratches on his nose. And he was already on a breathing machine," Guillory said.
The doctor informed the family Kendole had been tased.
"He had both kidneys fail, liver, his heart failed. And he had brain damage," Guillory said.
Two days later, Kendole passed away. Guillory says the next day investigators informed the family Kendole had been involved in a lengthy struggle with police inside of the Save-A-Dollar store.
"I ended up going to the dollar store." They said Kendole didn't bother anybody. The lady that was there she said. She said seen the tape and said they pretty much beat the crap out of him," Guillory said.
The family also says surveillance video from this store showed everything that happened inside that day. But so far, police have not released the video to them, or to the public.
Civil rights attorney Michael Oppenheimer and Kendole's family held a press conference Friday evening, announcing they are filing a federal lawsuit against the police department.
"The fact that there was a death in custody and that it was never released to the press or to anybody is absolutely nonsense, so the cover up began there," Oppenheimer said.
The family is also demanding the surveillance video be released.
"I want justice. For my son. I want officers that were involved to be held accountable for murdering my son," Guillory said.
Gretna Police Deputy Chief Anthony Chrisitiana responded to our questions late Friday evening, saying they are conducting a very thorough investigation. Christiana also says the coroner's report has not been complete. He also says they were told by the family's former attorney five to seven hours after the incident, not to speak with them about the investigation.
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