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VICTORVILLE — The president of the NAACP’s San Bernardino branch Tuesday called on the Justice Department to take over the probe into the death of Dante Parker, who died in sheriff’s custody last week after being stunned with a Taser multiple times.
At a morning press conference at the NAACP’s Victorville branch office, A. Majadi called for “a transparent, efficient and effective investigation” into Parker’s death on Aug. 12.
“We’re calling for the Department of Justice to intervene and come to Victorville and oversee the investigation,” Majadi said. “This has become too commonplace where we have to stand in front of cameras and demand justice for our people. Enough is enough. Our call is for complete transparency and accountability. This family should not have to wait for answers, the answers should be swift, as swift as they were to take the life of this man.”
Parker, a Daily Press employee, died after the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said he was stunned a Taser “multiple times.” Sheriff’s officials said in a news release last week that Parker, 36, was “aggressive and combative” when he was approached by a female deputy after a woman reported a man riding a bicycle had attempted to break into her home.
Cameron Sehat, the attorney representing the Parker family, said Tuesday that an investigation by his firm has yielded “conflicting stories” and that Parker was taken to the hospital with an “altered level of consciousness.”
“I’m not certain the source that made that statement (about him trying to break in) is reliable,” Sehat said.
Sehat also said that based on medical records and family statements, Parker was not using drugs.
“What will be telling is the toxicology report,” he said. “Other than that, we can only speculate.”
Parker’s wife, Bianca, said she was told by detectives on the night of her husband’s death that “he was not aggressive, he was disorientated.” She said she was also told that Parker’s paperwork listed him as a federal prisoner, which was untrue. She waited nearly eight hours after her husband’s death before she was told he had died.
“It’s on the records,” Sehat said. “Someone told the medical staff he was a federal prisoner, perhaps to keep a gag on the incident. We suspect foul play.”
Sehat said he will file a lawsuit on behalf of Bianca Parker and her five children.
“We’re planning on filing a government claim and thereafter a federal lawsuit,” said Sehat, who said information from sources led him to believe that Parker was hit with a stun gun “two to four times for 15 seconds each.” He continued to say “the Tasing was significant” and that stun guns “can kill” even though they are not meant to.
“It’s my utmost intention to seek answers and justice for the family,” Sehat said.
Meanwhile, Bianca Parker said she has still not heard from detectives about any information leading up to her husband’s death.
She said she will continue to try to answer her children’s questions, especially those of 6-year-old Dante Jr., who keeps asking one question.
“He keeps asking why all black men have to die. ‘Why do no white men die?’ ” Bianca Parker said Tuesday. “He keeps telling me, ‘I know I’m not supposed to cry because I’m a boy,’ and I say it’s OK to cry.”
Samuel Carl Jr., president of the Victorville branch of the NAACP, asked for anyone in the community with testimony or evidence regarding the incident that led to Parker’s death to come forward.
He also called on the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to require all its deputies wear a body camera at all times “which we believe will help both law enforcement and the community be more accountable to one another and would ensure more transparency.”
A Sheriff’s Department official said Tuesday that only a few deputies’ patrol cars are outfitted with video cameras at this time. Sheriff John McMahon has previously expressed support for all his deputies being outfitted with video cameras.
“The NAACP will continue to seek answers about the circumstances surrounding Dante Parker’s death ... until justice is served,” Carl said.
— Editor Steve Hunt contributed to this report.
Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.