Activists in Dekalb County, Georgia are calling on the FBI to investigate a 30-year-old police recruit’s death during training, which was preceded by harassment from his drill instructors, WSB-TV reported.
“If they would do this to their own trainee what are they doing to prisoners in the prison?” said Makungu Akinyela, who represented the DeKalb County Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability in a press conference alongside Lorraine Fredericks, whose son, Charles Ward, died after his second day of training in May 2013.
The local medical examiner’s office originally determined that Ward died of natural causes. However, the cause of death was changed to “undetermined” after WSB aired footage last November of Ward’s final day of training, which saw him wearing a pink shirt — unlike the other recruits in his class — and collapsing to the floor as one instructor yelled at him.
Ward also collapsed on a field at one point, the station reported, prompting instructors to tell other recruits to put flowers on him as if they were at his funeral.
“They worked that man to death,” said one fellow trainee, Courtney Gray. “The special attention they gave him, it was too much.”
Gray also said that instructors dissuaded him and other recruits from providing medical assistance to Ward at the end of their training session. Ward died the following day.
Local Sheriff Jeffrey Mann told WSB that his office does not investigate deaths similar to Ward’s.
Ward’s family filed a $20 million lawsuit against county and sheriff’s department officials this past September. But the county has contended that the statute of limitations expired in May, two years after Ward’s death.
The local District Attorney’s office is reportedly still conducting its own investigation.
“I’m stuck in time. I’m stuck seeing my son on a steel table,” Fredericks said. “All I want is justice. Justice for my child,” she said.
Watch WSB’s report, as aired on Monday, below.