By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The father of a 19-year-old inmate killed in June at the Prince George's County jail rallied supporters yesterday to demand that someone be held accountable in the slaying.
"It's been six months, and still nobody can tell me who killed my son or what happened leading up to his death," Ron Harris said. "I want to know why there is still so much secrecy in this case and why, after all this time, I still don't have answers."
Harris also questioned whether, as police allege, his son was driving the truck that fatally struck Officer Richard S. Findley. Ronnie L. White, charged with first-degree murder, was awaiting a court hearing in the case when he was found unconscious in his cell June 29. The state medical examiner's office ruled that he had been strangled.
Harris said people in the neighborhood where Findley was struck said White was not driving the truck. Harris declined to provide the names of witnesses.
In an interview later, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said, "All the evidence I've seen suggests that Ronnie White was the driver, but I promised Mr. Harris personally that I would review this matter, and I am."
Court records show that an officer with Findley at the time of the incident, Kelvin Scruggs, identified White as the driver.
Police have said that Findley, 39, and Scruggs were watching a suspected stolen Ford F-150 pickup truck in the 14700 block of Laurel-Bowie Road when two men got into the truck. When Findley approached, the driver floored the vehicle and headed toward him. Findley was hit and dragged but managed to fire shots that struck the hood and window. Police have identified the passenger as Gerald Wright, 42, and have said he was struck.
Harris's attorney, Julie Heiden, said Harris is demanding details because he is trying to piece together his son's last hours.
"He can't sleep. He's constantly thinking about those 36 hours," she said. "We are looking for a full investigation of the incidents on Findley's death that led to the arrest of Ronnie White."
Ivey said he could not discuss details of the cases while the investigation into White's death continues.
Harris said he also questions why White was identified as Findley's killer when, according to a charging document filed in the case, a lookout described the driver as 25 to 30 years old with black dreadlocks. White was 19 and wore his hair short, Harris said.
"My son died in solitary confinement in a jail," Harris said. "They know who was working in the unit where he was that day. The doors were locked, and only a few people had keys. Yet, after all this time, they say they don't have enough evidence to know who did it? Why not?"