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NBC News has obtained a coroner’s report that confirms a 22-year-old black man shot himself in the chest while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

The report contradicts the original police version that said Victor White III shot himself in the back while seated in a Louisiana police cruiser earlier this year. Both reports, however, state White was cuffed from behind.

According to NBC:

In a press release issued March 3, the day he died, the Louisiana State Police said Victor White III apparently shot himself in an Iberia Parish police car. According to the police statement, White had his hands cuffed behind his back when he shot himself in the back.

But according to the full final report of the Iberia Parish coroner, which was released nearly six months later and obtained exclusively by NBC News, White was shot in the front, not the back. The bullet entered his right chest and exited under his left armpit. White was left-handed, according to family members. According to the report, the forensic pathologist found gunshot residue in the wound, but not the sort of stippling that a close-range shot can sometimes produce. He also found abrasions on White’s face.

Investigators, however, never tested White’s hands for gunpowder residue. And despite questions and contradictions surrounding his death, the coroner still supported the police statement that White shot himself.

In a press release issued Monday, Dr. Carl Ditch said that based on the findings of the pathologist and investigators, it was possible for White “due to his body habitus” to manipulate the gun to shoot himself in the chest.

The suicide ruling is one that doesn’t sit well with the young man’s father.

“You can’t make me understand,” said Rev. Victor White II, 53, a Baptist minister and former substance abuse counselor. “You can’t make me understand how my son took his left hand, when he was handcuffed behind the back, and shot himself. I don’t believe a thing they’re saying at this point.”

If you recall, White died in March after police found marijuana and cocaine in his possession during a pat-down. White, who was hanging out with friends and acquaintance Isaiah Lewis, was put in the back of the cruiser, where he allegedly produced a small firearm and shot himself.

Shortly after his death, the State Police released a press release:

The press release stated that, “[Victor White III] was taken into custody, handcuffed behind his back, and transported to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office for processing. Once at the Sheriff’s Office, White became uncooperative and refused to exit the deputy’s patrol vehicle. As the deputy requested assistance from other deputies, White produced a handgun and fired one round striking himself in the back.”

Louisiana State Police assigned investigators to the case, but six months later, the details are still murky.

Due to the pending investigation, records normally considered public are not available. The State Police will not yet release dash cam footage, or the number of or names of any officers present during White’s death. They will not give any timeframe as to when they expect the investigation to conclude.

The coroner’s report notes that White had two lacerations on the left side of his face – one above his left eyebrow, and one on his left cheek. Lewis said that the last time he saw White – meaning after the police stop, when he was about to walk home and White was in custody – White’s face was unmarked. The original police statement in March said White had been “uncooperative” before the incident, but the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office told NBC News that White had not been involved in any physical altercation with police.

The lack of transparency has made the White family skeptical about the Louisiana investigation, though they are anxious for the results.

“I don’t think anything is going to be different from what they already said,” said Rev. White, who has retained a lawyer but hasn’t yet decided whether to file a lawsuit. “It’s difficult to see that anything else would bring us back what we need. The only thing we want back is our son.”

For more information on the coroner’s report, click here.


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