OKLAHOMA CITY – Armed with signs and determined voices, the Howard family was joined by several community organizations demanding answers in the controversial death of the their loved one, Robin Howard.
He died while in police custody after officers said he resisted arrest during a traffic stop.
Reverend Jesse Jackson came to Oklahoma City to lead the march.
“For all we know he is an unarmed man in police custody,” Rev. Jackson said. “He goes to police custody alive and comes out dead. He went in healthy and came out with beaten ribs, phenomena and punctured lungs.”
Nine months later the family is upset they don’t have access to all documents in the case.
“An injustice was done to our brother and we seek to find justice and we will not stop until we get it,” Kimberly Howard said.
Brady Henderson, Legal Director for the ACLU, offered his support during the protest.
“So many people in our community don’t know if they can trust the officers that are responding,” he said. “They don’t know if they can trust the leadership in this City Hall. That’s horrifying.”
Police said the criminal and administrative investigation is complete.
“The findings of that investigation deemed the force used by the officer is justified in taking Mr. Howard into custody,” OKC Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said. “But the manner in which some of the force was applied was deemed inappropriate.”
The officer involved was placed on restrictive duty for a time but is now back on the streets.
That, coupled with one of the officer’s direct connection to the police chief, raises concerns for the family.
“The officer in question’s grandmother is the secretary for the police chief further compounds the issue of distrust and we all deserve equal protection under the law,” Rev. Jackson said.
The family’s attorney is concerned about transparency.
“When you don’t tell a family for nine days that someone is either in the hospital or dead, that’s a lot of time to get your story straight,” attorney David Slane said.
He said Howard was very clear about what happened when he talked with police investigators, before he died.
“When the internal affairs investigators got there to the hospital and interviewed him, told them quote, ‘They beat my a**.’”
The department said the chief has met with the family more than once to discuss their concerns.
There is a pending FBI review of the case to determine if there were any civil right violations.