It took a Louisiana mother six months to learn that police had killed her son during a scuffle. She believed he had died due to brain damage from chronic cocaine use. Now the FBI is investigating his death.
Robert Minjarez Jr. died in March, but it wasn’t until the 11-page state forensic pathologist’s report was released in August that his mother, Catherine Cortez, learned the truth about his death – which was ruled a homicide by the Lafayette Parish Coroner.
The month of March began with the 30-year-old leaving an emergency room against medical advice after being treated for Rhabdomyolysis, or muscle breakdown. The next day, a clerk at a Lafayette, La., gas station called police to report that Minjarez was standing outside the door, hallucinating, KATC reported.
Officers with the Scott and Carencro Police Departments, as well as deputies with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, responded to the call. Minjarez was cuffed at his hands and feet, then pinned to the ground by at least three cops, surveillance video showed.
Minjarez could be heard saying, “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t do nothing,” the Louisiana Forensic Center’s pathologist report said. Later, he“can be heard screaming, ‘help, help, help me get them off, you’re going to kill me… what the [expletive] did I do’, followed by ‘you’re going to suffocate…’ and “I can’t breathe’ [three] times.”
One of the officers told him, “You got 265 lbs on your back, you’re not going anywhere,” the report said. He was pinned down for four minutes before he stopped breathing.