Al Sharpton: Dexter Wade’s death and burial ‘a national outrage’

The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an impassioned eulogy Monday for Dexter Wade, a 37-year-old Black man who was run over by an off-duty police officer in Jackson, Miss., and buried in a potter’s field without his family’s knowledge.

“What happened to Dexter is a disgrace, a national outrage, and should be treated as such,” Sharpton said at the New Horizon Church International. “It is time for the mayor and the city council to stand up for Dexter. How do you explain how a young man ends up buried? The autopsy said that he had a state ID in his front pocket. He had his driver’s license, yet you couldn’t find his mother? You couldn’t find some loved one? You let him lay in the morgue and buried him?”

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Sharpton said he plans to stay involved until the prosecution of all those involved in the death of Wade is complete, adding that it could have been his own son who faced Wade’s fate.

“His life mattered to his mama, to his daughters, and we are going to make it matter all over this county.”

Wade was fatally struck March 5 by an off-duty police officer in a Jackson Police vehicle.

Though Bettersten Wade, Dexter Wade’s mother, had reported her son missing to investigators one week after his death and an independent autopsy last week found Wade had a photo ID with his address in his jeans when he was fatally struck, Wade’s family was not informed of his death until August.

At that point, Wade had already been buried in a field near the Hinds County Penal Farm.

Sharpton said the family is now being told it was a Black officer who ran Wade over, but he emphasized that does not matter and compared the death of Wade to that of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died after being brutally beaten by five Black police officers in Memphis, Tenn.

“I don’t care if he’s Black or white,” Sharpton said. “What he did is wrong, and they need to be called accountable. In fact, I’m more offended that he’s Black because you wouldn’t have done that to a young white man. You know better in Mississippi to hit a young white man and keep going and bury him in potter’s field. You’re going to learn you can’t do that to this Black man.”

After Wade’s body was exhumed last week, civil rights attorney Ben Crump released the initial results of an independent autopsy.

The report found Wade’s body had been completely run over by a police vehicle, he had multiple blunt force injuries to the skull, ribs and pelvis, and his left leg was amputated. He was also not properly embalmed, so his body was severely decomposed.

Crump, who is representing Wade’s family, issued a call to action after the funeral Monday.

“This is trying to get to the truth,” he said. “With transparency plus truth, we can get to accountability and get to justice in Mississippi.”

While Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba last month said the time it took Wade’s family to be notified “was an unfortunate and tragic accident,” Crump and Sharpton have both called for the Department of Justice to investigate the Jackson Police Department. Sharpton last week sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland to formally request an investigation into the police department’s actions.

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