An unmarked Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office vehicle and Keeven Robinson’s SUV were headed in opposite directions when they collided on a street in the Shrewsbury neighborhood the morning of May 10, setting off a foot chase that ended with Robinson's death during a struggle with deputies, a video obtained by The Advocate shows.
The video, which was captured by a home security camera in the neighborhood, provides a look at part of an encounter that left a 22-year-old black man dead and four white deputies on desk duty while authorities investigate whether Robinson's death was justifiable.
The 61-second clip appears to pick up after Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents who were following Robinson, the target of a drug-dealing investigation, tried to use two vehicles to box him in at a Shell gasoline station at Labarre Place and Jefferson Highway.
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Robinson was able to elude the trap and drove off in his black car, turning north on Labarre Place.
Two cars — one light and the other dark — and a pickup truck chased after him. The video shows Robinson then doubling back toward Jefferson Highway.
Though the video footage is partially obstructed by trees and shrubbery, Robinson’s car can be seen being spun back into the frame, apparently after being struck by the dark-colored vehicle that pursued him out of the gasoline station.
The collision, which may have been a deliberate maneuver by the deputy to incapacitate Robinson's car, happened near Labarre and Lurline Drive.
Robinson leaped out of his vehicle and started running in the opposite direction from the deputy's car. He went across the front yard of a home on the west side of Labarre until he was out of view.
The video shows the pickup and light-colored car pulling up and deputies fanning out in the direction that Robinson ran. The truck's driver soon returns to it and drives north on Labarre, the video shows.
The video does not capture what the Sheriff's Office has said happened next. It has said that after Robinson leaped over a number of fences in the area, deputies caught up with him in the back yard of a home and fought with him as they handcuffed him.
Deputies said that Robinson, who allegedly had left a gun and drugs in his car, stopped breathing during the struggle. He died despite being taken to nearby Ochsner Medical Center.
The case of a 22-year-old man who died last week while in custody of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is being investigated as a homicide…
An autopsy performed May 12 found that Robinson died from asphyxiation after someone squeezed, grabbed or leaned on his neck, damaging soft tissue in that part of his body.
According to numerous residents in the neighborhood, the fatal confrontation occurred in the backyard of a man named Rene Perez.
Perez, who speaks only Spanish, said neither he nor his family was at home at the time. But he said he imagined it was a fierce fight. Perez said he came home from work that evening to find his Chihuahua dog, which was home at the time Robinson died, had soiled the sofa cushions, and they had to be discarded.
“The dog is very well-trained. He never goes inside,” said Perez, whose home does not have surveillance cameras. “But that’s how scared he was.”
The Sheriff’s Office has asked Louisiana State Police and the FBI to assist in deciding whether the force that deputies used on Robinson was excessive. Officials have not said when that investigation may be completed.
The Sheriff's Office does not equip its deputies with video equipment, so there is no dashboard or body camera footage of the encounter.
The agency has not released the names of the four deputies who were involved and who are on desk duty while the investigation proceeds. However, sources have identified them as narcotics agents David Lowe, Jason Spadoni, Justin Brister and Gary Bordelon.
The racial dynamics of the case spurred a large, peaceful demonstration on Labarre Place a few days after the incident, with hundreds of marchers demanding that justice be done.
A similar message rang out Saturday at Robinson’s funeral, which was attended by hundreds.
Neither an attorney for Robinson’s family nor the Sheriff’s Office commented on the video Wednesday.