- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana prosecutors on Friday ruled out any criminal charges in the death of a 22-year-old man who was fatally shot while handcuffed behind his back in the rear of a patrol car.

A statement from the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office says there is “insufficient credible evidence” to conclude that Victor White III did not shoot himself while he was in the custody of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office in March 2014.

A parish coroner ruled in 2014 that the New Iberia man shot himself in the chest following his drug-related arrest.

The Justice Department announced in December that no federal charges would be filed in connection with White’s death following an FBI investigation. State Police also investigated.

Carol Powell Lexing, an attorney for White’s family, said the family was disappointed but not surprised by the district attorney’s decision. She said the family would forge ahead with its federal lawsuit against Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal and several deputies.

“Now we can move forward in a more meaningful way,” she said.

In a seven-page statement outlining its conclusions about White’s death on March 3, 2014, the district attorney’s office says video footage shows White reaching around to his front pants pocket after a deputy handcuffed him behind his back and placed him in a patrol car.

White broke down in tears and refused to exit the cruiser when the deputy drove him to a sheriff’s office facility, the statement says, adding that he also remarked that he “could not go back to jail” and asked the deputy to tell his relatives that he loved them. The statement goes on to say that a lieutenant heard White shout, “I’m gone!” before the gunshot. Deputies say they found him slumped forward with a .25-caliber handgun on the seat near him.

White’s brother, Leonard, told detectives that Victor owned a .25-caliber handgun and was carrying it on the night he died.

The statement says tests showed gunshot residue on White’s hands, while an autopsy showed a bullet entered the right side of White’s chest, exited his left armpit and lodged in his left bicep. A forensic pathologist concluded it was possible for the gunshot to be self-inflicted even though White’s hands were handcuffed behind his back, the statement says.

Powell Lexing said the district attorney’s office provided her with its file on the case during a meeting Friday. She said she remains confident that the evidence will show a “substantial injustice perpetrated on the family.”

“This information has been withheld from us for two years,” she said. “It’s been kind of hard for us to move forward on our end.”

The district attorney’s office expressed sympathy for White’s family.

“It is our sincere hope that with the conclusion of this investigation they can begin to heal from this tragedy,” officials said in a statement.

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