Vulnerable young man dies following police taser arrest
Compiled from various sources
published: Natasha Thompson – December 2012
Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
23 year old Robert Rick died after he was tasered whilst in the custody of the Alexandria (Los Angeles) police at Rapides Parish Jail on February 5th 2011. Robert’s Grandmother, Maxine Jones, had called 911 for medical assistance for Robert as he was having a seizure.
On arrival the ambulance refused to treat him instead calling the police to calm him down as he refused to go to the hospital, he was then arrested.
Mrs Jones said she had informed the police that Robert has been discharged from hospital after being treated for mental health issues days before, even showing them his discharge papers. Robert had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
Mrs Jones said the police told her they would take him to hospital and that she was unable to accompany him due to her age and illness. Neighbours say they saw Robert screaming and being beaten by police when he was put in their car, and was struck on the head while handcuffed.
Officers admitted tasering Robert a number of times. They say he was restless and they tasered him on his right thigh the first time as he would not calm down while handcuffed. About an hour later, when Robert arrived at the police station, deputies say he became violent and was yelling and kicking, he was again tasered.
Following this Robert was put in a cell and when officers noticed he had become “limp” they tried CPR and called for medical help.
A coroner found the cause of death to be “excited delirium”, which is a combination of stress and cocaine which was found in his system. Robert’s father, Lawrence Ricks commented “If he was about to OD like they claim, why didn’t they take him to the emergency room? After you get to the emergency room, you can always arrest him right there or arrest him later.” This is a human issue. A human being that’s dead. When they take your life away, what do you have left?”
Family and neighbours were not questioned by the state police conducting an investigation, says Robert’s brother, United States Sgt Nathaniel Ricks who was concerned saying “How can you do and investigation without interviewing my grandmother or coming to her home,” which he considered to be a crime scene. Nathaniel says they still have Roberts’ bed sheets and pillow case that are covered in his bothers blood.
State police say he was arrested for resisting an officer and the simple battery of his grandmother, which she denies ever happened. Mrs. Jones has said that Robert had no violent history.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy told local newspapers soon after Robert death that officers ‘…are presumed to have discharged their duties properly’ despite the information from Roberts grandmother.
In June, four months after Robert’s death, his family and legal counsel told of their plans to file a civil suit against the City of Alexandria. They say Roberts’s death was unjustified as he had no previous violent history. The police have given little detail about the incidents leading to his death. the family hoped to get answers about how Robert died.
In February 2012 Roberts’s family sued a number of agencies in Rapides Parish including the Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Police Department and the Mayor.
There is no amount of money listed in the suit. The family are suing for damages and want a jury to hear the case.
Lawrence Ricks said that one year after his son died “I just want to ask them what happened? What happened?… It’s a matter of justice now.
If a person was fighting the police or had a weapon, then the police have a right to shoot them or use whatever deadly force. But, from what I can understand, there was no weapon involved.
The Black Family in the age of mass incarceration
Death: Robert Ricks (Alexandria LA)
7 February 2011