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ROBERT RICKS IS BEING LAID TO REST BUT HIS FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY STILL SEEKING ANSWERS ABOUT HIS DEATH WHILE IN POLICE CUSTODY!
ALEXANDRIA, LA. FEBRUARY 11, 2011
Robert Ricks, 23, is being eulogized Saturday at 2pm at Pilgrim Baptist Church, in Alexandria this Saturday, February 12th. Ricks died nearly a week ago, Saturday February 5th, after being tasered by Alexandria police officers and possibly by jailers in the Rapides Parish Jail, according to State Police who are now investigating his death.
The in custody death of Ricks has caused and outrage in the African American community, and has the family of the deceased mental patient concerned about a possible police cover up. According to Ricks' 85-year-old grandmother, Maxine Jones, who he lived with on Apple White Street, she called 911 after her grandson had a seizure around 9pm Saturday.
She says her grandson, a mental patient diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder and Paranoid Schizophrenia was just released from Cross Roads hospital only two days earlier. Jones told Broadcast Journalist,Tony Brown,Host of the state-wide talk show "Eyes Open," who first broke the story to the public on Tuesday morning, that her grandson came out of the seizure just before paramedics arrived at her home.
What happened shortly thereafter is what state police and the family are trying to find out. The Ricks family says Robert refused medical treatment and at some point for unknown reasons the Acadian ambulance paramedics called Alexandria Police. Maxine Jones neighbors says about six Alexandria Police units arrived at the location and stayed in the home even after the ambulance and fire department left the scene.
Jones adds that officers promised her that they would take her grandson to the hospital and vehemently denies all reports by police that her grandson ever assaulted her. The family believes the simple battery charge against Robert is part of a cover-up by police because of the death.
They along with the local NAACP want to know why police were called? Why Robert Ricks who does not have a police history, or record of abusing his grandmother was taken to jail? The family says the police told Maxine Jones, who lived alone with her grandson was promised that he would be taken to the hospital and she could not go due to her age and illness. She also says she told officers numerous times that Robert Ricks was a mental patient and says she even showed them his discharge papers from the hospital.
Neighbors who saw Ricks being placed in the back of the squad car say the man was screaming that he had been beaten and tased and was afraid, they also say at least one officer hit Ricks in the head while he was handcuffed after putting him in the police unit.
United States Air Force Sgt Nathaniel Ricks, a former Military Police Officer, now instructor stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, who is Roberts older brother, says he doesn't understand why his brother died and is concerned because so far no one with the State Police has come to his grandmothers home or questioned the family or neighbors to date. "How can you do and investigation without interviewing my grandmother or coming to her home," which he considers a crime scene. He says the family still has his brothers bed sheets and pillow case that he says is covered in his bothers blood.
State Police say they expect the autopsy to be complete in about 4 to 6 weeks. Robert Ricks was arrested for simple battery of Maxine Jones, according to the police report. It list the arresting officers as Marcus Kirk and David Foshee Jr. Maxine Jones says as many as 6 APD police were in her home on that fatal night. No word yet on whether any law enforcement involved in the arrest with APD or the Rapides Parish Sheriff Office have been placed on leave.
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy who did not have his weekly Wednesday press conference did tell the local newspaper after finding out about the death," When we know what happens, we come to terms easier than when we have questions. Please support the family of the deceased and our officers, whom I must remind citizens are presumed to have discharged their duties properly, and who risk their lives every day for all of us."