Kendole Joseph

Family members said this picture of Kendole Joseph was taken when he was hospitalized after a Feb. 7 struggle with Gretna police officers. He died in a hospital two days later.

Family provided

The family of a man with a paranoid schizophrenia who died after a violent encounter with Gretna police officers in February filed a wrongful death suit against the members of the department on Thursday.

Kendole Joseph’s sister and the mother of his two children allege that unknown Gretna police officers escalated the situation when they encountered Joseph in the middle of a mental health crisis outside the Save A Dollar Food Store on Feb. 7. The suit claims that the “(o)fficers tased and beat him, leading to his death.”

Joseph, 27, died at a hospital two days later.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office has not released an official determination on Joseph’s death. The criminal investigation into his death is being handled by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Gretna Police Department.

Gretna Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana said Thursday that the department’s investigation into the case is ongoing. He declined comment on the lawsuit, saying the department has not yet been served with it.

“It would just be inappropriate at this time because we don’t know what the content of the litigation is,” Christiana said.

An initial police report on the incident states that Joseph ran inside the convenience store, where he “began to physically resist arrest by striking officers and refusing to comply with verbal commands.”

Police said that Joseph continued to resist, which forced an officer to use a Taser on him. Joseph “continued to resist and scream” until he was carried to the rear seat of a police vehicle, where he grew unresponsive, according to the report.

Joseph’s family members have called on the Gretna Police Department to release surveillance video from the store to back up its version of events.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432