Press Releases
Press Releases


Nov 02, 2023

Family Spent Months Searching for 37-Year-Old Father, Only to Discover He Was Fatally Struck by Off-Duty Officer and Buried in a Pauper’s Grave

New York, NY –– Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the Jackson, Mississippi police department over the murder of Dexter Wade and the subsequent coverup. Wade’s family spent months searching for the 37-year-old after he was last seen leaving his mother’s home on March 5.

His mother, Bettersten Wade, wasn’t informed until late August that Wade had been fatally struck by a Jackson Police Department car. He was later buried in a pauper’s grave near the Hinds County Penal Farm after his body went unclaimed. Jackson officials have argued he didn’t have any identification on him at the time. But the Wade family attorney Ben Crump revealed Monday that the coroner’s office was told several times that police were unable to find a next of kin – despite the fact Bettersten had filed a missing person’s report in mid-March. Wade’s death didn’t get national attention until last week, however, until an NBC News report detailed the horrific coverup.

“What happened to Dexter Wade is one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard. This is truly as bad as it gets. You have an off-duty officer who fatally strikes a Black man with an official vehicle, then a department that says they cannot locate a next of kin while his mother begs and pleads with anyone who will listen to find her son. The details clearly show this is a coverup – plain and simple.

Today, I am asking the Justice Department to not only investigate this incident but the entire procedures, tactics, and culture of the Jackson Police Department. You cannot look at a single rotting tree and hope the rest of the forest is healthy. We are not even a year removed from the murder of Tyre Nichols, and we are confronted with another law enforcement department brutally killing a Black man and then muddying their tracks. The Justice Department must set a precedent that if you commit an action as heinous as this, your entire house will be subject to scrutiny. In the meantime, the National Action Network is working with our allies in Jackson to support Dexter’s family during this incredibly difficult time.”

About National Action Network (NAN)
National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency, and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality, or gender.

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