NAACP Official Faults Pr. George's for Silence on Jail Death
Tuesday, August 12, 2008; 1:17 PM
The head of the local chapter of the NAACP said today that six weeks of silence by law enforcement agencies investigating the death of Ronnie L. White in a Prince George's County jail is undermining the credibility of county government and its corrections agency.
"While this investigation is taking so long, people are losing the trust that they had in the county government and it is a very big, heavy cloud not only on the correctional officers . . . but on the county," said June White Dillard, president of the Prince George's County Branch of the NAACP. "The longer it takes, people will begin to suspect that . . . the county government is trying to do a cover up, and that is not what we want to happen."
White Dillard's comments come after a month without new public disclosures about the case. White, 19, was found strangled in his cell in the Prince George's County Corrections Center on June 29, less than two days after he was charged with killing a veteran county police officer, Cpl. Richard S. Findley.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner preliminarily ruled White's death a homicide by asphyxiation and strangulation the day after he died, county officials said. At their request, the Maryland State Police and the civil rights division of the FBI took over the investigation, and have said little publicly since.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey has said he will take the findings of the investigation to a grand jury. He has said he is waiting for the final report from the medical examiner to move forward.
White Dillard called on Ivey to demand the medical examiner's full report.
The "NAACP has a very grave concern about the lack of progress in the investigation of the homicide of Ronnie White," White Dillard said. "It has been more than six weeks since the medical examiner had the body and has not completed the full and final report. We feel that [Ivey] can request, and should request, that the medical examiner's report be expedited."
White Dillard also addressed an assertion made by the correctional officers union that White may have committed suicide.
"There was no way that we can consider, none of us will consider, that there was a suicide by Mr. White while he was in the custody of the correctional officers."