More than eight months after 37-year-old Dexter Wade was fatally struck by a Mississippi officer in a police cruiser, his family members shared their final goodbyes as he was laid to rest Monday.
The Jackson Police Department said Wade died after being struck by an officer on March 5 and investigators were not able to contact his family. His mother reported him missing on March 14, a little more than a week after the crash, but did not receive word he had been killed – and buried – until August 24, CNN has reported.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Wade was buried in a “pauper’s field.” His body was exhumed earlier this month.
At his service Monday, Wade’s mother, Bettersten Wade, talked about her journey trying to find her son. “I begged Dexter to come home,” she said. “Dexter, you made it home.”
Holding the hands of his two daughters, Wade’s mother thanked those who have supported her and urged, “Just keep fighting with me, ‘cause it’s not over yet.”
“We’re just letting Dexter go home and walk around Heaven,” she said. “And now, Dexter, you are home.”
She was joined by Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton, both of whom stood by her as she spoke just steps from her son’s casket.
The service included images of tender moments from Wade’s life – him smiling as a baby, a childhood picture with a school diploma, hugs with family members, milestone events with his daughters, poses with loved ones next to a Christmas tree.
“Here in Mississippi, they had to exhume Emmett Till to get some justice. And then they had to exhume Medgar Evers here in Mississippi to get some justice. So, I’m not surprised in 2023, we had to exhume Dexter Wade to get some justice,” Crump said during the service.
“But I knew to get justice, we had to fight not only in the court of law but also in the court of public opinion,” he added.
His speech was followed by a fiery eulogy delivered by Sharpton, who also homed in on the injustices the state has seen – a theme other speakers also highlighted during the service.
“What happened to Dexter is a disgrace, a national outrage and should be treated as such,” he said, later adding: “How do you explain how a young man ends up buried? The autopsy said that he had state ID in his front pocket, had a driver’s license, yet you couldn’t find his mother? You couldn’t find some loved one?”
Police have said they were “unable to identify” Wade at the time of his death and he was identified days later by the coroner’s office through medication found in his pocket. The city of Jackson has called the killing an “unfortunate accident,” but said an investigation “found no malicious intent by any Jackson police staff.”
At the service, Sharpton called for justice, telling the gathered crowd, “I’ll be here until we see the prosecution of everybody involved in the death of Dexter Wade.”
“His life mattered to his momma, to his daughters and we’re going to make it matter all over this country.”
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