Julius Bagley portrait

Julius "Jules" Bagley

Authorities investigating the Dec. 8 death of Julius “Jules” Bagley in Mid-City this week provided an answer to a key question in the case: How did he die?

The 34-year-old towboat captain died from the side effects of multiple drugs that he’d ingested, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office said Tuesday. 

But Bagley’s family hopes New Orleans Police Department investigators keep pressing on other unanswered questions, such as whether his companions on the night he died may be liable for supplying him the drugs or apparently waiting hours to call for help.

“Something tragic happened that night,” attorney Adam Stumpf, who represents Bagley’s family, said Wednesday. “The whole situation is difficult, but we do have faith NOPD … are trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.”

An NOPD spokesman said there have been no arrests made or charges filed in Bagley’s death.

Bagley’s death captured the attention of the community when his family published an obituary saying he “died due to a senseless act of violence.” The family also offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever was responsible for the death of Bagley, a north shore man whose survivors included his fiancée and a son.

Officials initially left Bagley’s death unclassified, saying it required the completion of a toxicology test. After those results came in, Coroner Dr. Dwight McKenna’s office said Bagley’s death had been an accident stemming from the side effects of multiple, unspecified drugs he had consumed.

Yet Bagley’s family remains concerned about another aspect of a Jan. 31 report from the pathologist who conducted Bagley's autopsy. The pathologist, Dr. Erin O’Sullivan, said there were “minor blunt force injuries” on Bagley when he died — specifically scrapes, bruises and bleeding at the top, back part of the skull.

Two witnesses who spoke with police claimed they saw Bagley fall and hit his head as he left a bar in the 500 block of South Jefferson Davis Parkway shortly before his death. But Bagley’s relatives have argued that there is no independent corroboration for the claim that he fell.

Instead, they suspect he was fatally beaten.

Additionally, the two people accompanying Bagley at the bar said it was about 3 a.m. when they put him in a car so he could sleep off the effects of the alcohol he had consumed, according to a police report. They said one of those people then drove the car to the 500 block of South Clark Street.

They then waited about four hours to call first responders to check on Bagley, who was taken to University Medical Center and pronounced dead.

But a business surveillance video obtained by WWL-TV appeared to show the pair parking the car on South Clark, with Bagley inside, about four hours after they said they did. Stumpf called the discrepancy “suspicious.”

Stumpf also said that some belongings of Bagley — who would have turned 35 on Tuesday — appeared to be missing when his body was found.

State law allows authorities to pursue murder charges against people who provide drugs to others who then die as a result of ingesting those narcotics. But prosecutors rarely invoke that law. 

Bagley’s family also questions whether his companions that night may be liable for the four-hour gap of time between when he showed signs of being unwell and when help was called. Exactly what happened during that time is unclear.

“There are other people involved,” said Stumpf, of the Chehardy Sherman Williams law firm. “It’s a piece to the puzzle of what happened that night.”

Stumpf said the Bagley family’s reward offer generated tips that were forwarded to police. But the reward remains unpaid, Stumpf said.

WWL-TV's Paul Murphy contributed to this report. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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