Bettersten Wade Robinson searched for his son, Dexter Wade, for more than five months before learning he had been killed March 5 and buried in a potter’s field after being run over by an off-duty Jackson police officer. a car.
Wade Robinson, who is accusing the county and police of an alleged “cover-up,” spoke to ABC News Live’s Lynsey Davis in an interview that aired on Prime Wednesday night and demanded “accountability.”
“Right now I’m hoping I can come up with some sort of answer as to why it happened and what caused it to happen. But right now I’m still not satisfied,” she said.
“It’s a solid cover-up,” she added.
After learning from the police that her son was buried in a potter’s field, Wade Robinson tried to get his body back and give it a proper burial. But when she arrived for her son’s exhumation on Monday morning, she soon learned his body had been exhumed hours earlier without her present, and for the grieving mother, that was adding insult to injury.
“They put it in the ground without my permission. They dug it up without my permission,” said an outraged Wade Robinson as she stood near the empty grave outside the Raymond Detention Center Monday morning.
“Now I asked, can I exhume my child and try to find some peace … now you’re going to take that away from me,” said a tearful Wade Robinson as he stood near his son’s burial site outside the Raymond Detention Center. “I couldn’t even see him come out of the ground. Yall didn’t give me time to see him before he took his last breath. I didn’t get to see him come out of the ground. Cover up!”
Family attorney Ben Crump told reporters Monday that the family had reached an agreement with the Hinds County Board of Supervisors that the exhumation would take place at 11:30 a.m. local time that day, but when they arrived they learned that Wade’s body had been exhumed in 8:00 am without his family present.
“No one was given permission by the family to take Dexter off the ground in the early hours of the morning. It was an agreed position with the county that Mrs. Bettersten Wade would be here at 11:30 to begin the exhumation of her son and they didn’t honor it,” Crump said. “And like a thief in the night they went and took the body out of the ground .”
Crump shared with ABC News a letter the family received from the Hinds County Board of Supervisors stating the exhumation will take place at 11:30 a.m.
ABC News reached out to all five members of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors to ask about the letter and the timing of the exhumation, but requests for comment were not returned.
County Administrator Kenny Wayne Jones told ABC News Jackson affiliate WAPT that the incident was “very unfortunate” but said “there was no cover-up or anything like that. Just a misunderstanding.”
ABC News has reached out to Jones for further comment.
Wade Robinson told Davis she was “disappointed” that no one was “willing to take responsibility” for burying her son and then exhuming him — both without the family’s knowledge or permission.
“How many mistakes can you make before you take responsibility,” she said.
“Nobody has come up to me and said they’re sorry,” she added.
Wade Robinson said she reported her son missing on March 14, nine days after she last heard from him on March 5. She didn’t learn until Aug. 24 — more than five months after his death — that her son had gone missing after being hit and killed by an off-duty Jackson police officer the night of March 5 as he crossed a local highway.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba previously admitted during his Oct. 26 State of the City address that there was a “lack of communication” that led to the months-long delay in letting Wade’s family know what happened to him .
According to Lumumba, Wade had no identification on him when he was killed, but he did have a bottle of prescription medication that eventually allowed the medical examiner to identify him.
“The failure was that ultimately there was a lack of communication with the missing persons unit, the coroner’s office and the accident investigation,” Lumumba said.
Lumumba said that “at no point have we identified, nor has any investigation revealed, that there was any police misconduct in this process.”
“The incident was investigated and it was determined that it was in fact an accident and that there was no malicious intent,” he added.
ABC News reached out to the Jackson Police Department, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
Crump told Davies in an interview broadcast on Wednesday that it was “unbelievable” that it took police more than five months to inform his family of his death, especially when “they know who Mrs Bettersten was”. as she filed a missing person report with the Jackson Police Department and provided her name and address to police.
“They knew where he lived because he had medication in his pocket that his doctor had and the doctor told them Ms. Bettersten was a close relative of his,” Crump said.
After the exhumation, the Jackson police chief deferred to ABC News’ questions about the allegations of a “cover-up” by the city of Jackson.
Melissa Payne, a spokeswoman for the city of Jackson, told ABC News that it would be “inappropriate” for the city to comment because “the city was not involved in his burial or exhumation. It was all from the county.”
Crump, along with family attorney Dennis Sweet, are now calling on the US Department of Justice to investigate the circumstances surrounding Wade’s death, burial and exhumation.
“Attorney Sweet and I will advocate for transparency that continues to be denied to Ms. Bettersten. What happened here today is a low-level disgrace,” Crump said Monday. “And as Mrs. Bettersten said when she first called us … it was a cover.”
ABC News has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.
Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said in an Oct. 27 statement that his office is working with the Jackson Police Department, the 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 disposal of Mr. Wade’s body.”
“We ask for the public’s patience while this important work is undertaken,” Owens added.
ABC News’ Sabina Gebremedhin contributed to this story.