Settlement reached in Keeven Robinson wrongful death lawsuit against JPSO

Two federal civil rights lawsuits filed after the 2018 death of Keeven Robinson were settled...
Two federal civil rights lawsuits filed after the 2018 death of Keeven Robinson were settled Dec. before a scheduled Jan. 10 trial, court records show(Family Members)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 1:49 PM CST
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GRETNA, La. (WVUE) - The mother and widow of a man choked to death in a 2018 arrest struggle with undercover narcotics officers have settled their federal civil rights lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Court records show Kiwanda Robinson and Wachelle Boutte reached a settlement with Sheriff Joe Lopinto’s office over the death of 22-year-old Keeven Robinson. Their suit was dismissed Dec. 22 by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown, who was to preside over a trial in the matter starting Jan. 10.

In response to a public records request, the JPSO said it settled the lawsuit for $308,500. The women had filed separate lawsuits initially in April 2019, but a motion to consolidate the two civil actions into one was granted in March 2021.

Keeven Robinson died May 10, 2018, after being chased by deputies into the back yard of a home in Old Jefferson. Authorities said the detectives, acting on a tip from an informant, had tried to arrest Robinson minutes earlier at a gas station on Jefferson Highway as part of a narcotics trafficking investigation.

Lopinto said Keeven Robinson spotted detectives at the Shell station, and rammed into two detectives’ vehicles with his to make his escape. Lopinto said Robinson then got out of his car and jumped several fences before four detectives caught up to him. Lopinto said when the suspect was taken into custody, he began having trouble breathing and died at a hospital.

Robinson’s mother Kiwanda and widow Wachelle Boutte did not dispute the pursuit, but alleged in their lawsuit that Keeven Robinson died illegally at the hands of police. The lawsuit contended that after Keeven Robinson’s “surrender,” he was pinned to the ground and beaten, then stopped breathing while being choked.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office concluded that Robinson’s cause of death was compressional asphyxia and blunt force injuries with acute asthmatic exacerbation, and the manner of death was deemed a homicide.

Family members and supporters marched along the Causeway in 2019, demanding criminal charges against the deputies. But District Attorney Paul Connick’s office announced last year that it lacked sufficient evidence to charge JPSO detectives Justin Brister, Gary Bordelon, David Lowe and Jason Spadoni with a crime.

“While a homicide is the killing of one person by another, not every homicide is a crime,” Connick said in July 2020.

Connick’s office published on its website its report, outlining the details of the review and analysis of this case. The report also included the findings of independent experts asked to examine the circumstances of Keeven Robinson’s death.

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