Smells All The Way To New York

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There is something rotten in Louisiana.

This is a follow up to my Feb. 6 column about the “mysterious� death of Westlake, Louisiana, mayor Gerald Washington, who was Black, in a predominantly white town. As readers may recall, last time I reported that Washington, who was sworn into office on December 30, 2006, died the very next day.

Someone allegedly dialed 911 after spotting his truck in a deserted parking lot and his body lying on the ground. The family had strong reservations about the manner in which the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff handled the “investigation� at the crime scene and how the coroner rushed to label Washington’s death a suicide. In my column, given my training and past work in law enforcement, I also expressed my doubts and made this known to officials in Westlake while reporting that column.

Today, I can report here that Mayor Washington’s body has since been exhumed.
The Louisiana State Police had been called in on January 3rd, and concluded their “investigation� on February 21st and concurred with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and coroner’s report of a suicide. 

“If there had been any evidence of malicious intent or conspiracy, the investigation would have revealed it,� writes Colonel Henry Whitehorn, the head of the Louisiana State Police. “No evidence was found of any illegal or unethical conduct by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office or the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office.� 
I had spoken with Washington’s family members—they said they had no confidence in either report and continued to search for justice.  Today, the family will have the body dug up from the ground, for a real independent autopsy, Geroski Washington, his son told me. “We are going to exhume the body and it will be driven to Houston, Texas then flown to Pittsburgh. The coroner in Pittsburgh is going to perform an independent autopsy. We are going to move forward from that day. We are taking all the steps so we could get closure and find out what really happened,� Geroski Washington adds. 

The Black Star News
  will of course follow the story all the way.

Despite my requests, I have yet to receive copies of any reports referring to the crime scene. Yet from the account Geroski and his sister Germaine Washington-Broussard provide of the crime scene, anyone with a little common scene would have a problem with the way the investigation into Washington’s death was handled.

The bullet that entered and exited Mayor Washington’s body was not found at the crime scene. Can someone commit suicide and then make the bullet vanish? This is what the family said: “They did not take any fingerprints, no forensics was done, my father’s truck was detailed and then driven away from the crime scene by a retired sheriff who lives two houses away from our Dad – the truck was left badly parked in the driveway of my Dad’s home. The Calcasieu Parish fire department was called in and washed down the crime scene.� Keystone cops of conspiracy?

I asked the State Police whether investigating the conduct of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office was on the table. “The investigation we conducted was an independent investigation totally separate from what the Sheriff’s office did and the purpose of our investigation was not to go over what steps were taken by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. Ours was to conduct a completely independent investigation. Our conclusion was the same as the Sheriff’s Department,� Sergeant Markus L. Smith, Spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police, told me. I wasn’t provided with the timeline for the release of the written report of the investigation.

As far as the Louisiana State Police is concerned, the probe into Mayor Washington’s death is over. The “findings� are being sent to Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier for review before the case is officially closed.

Separately, on January 14, two shotgun rounds were fired into the home of Greenwood, Louisiana’s first Black mayor, Ernest Lampkins. Luckily no one was harmed—not this time. The town of 2,600 has a 75% white population. Greenwood Police and Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office are investigating. Or is it “investigating�?

Also Leslie Thompson, first Black mayor of Jonesboro, Louisiana, has been receiving death threats at his home by telephone, says the NAACP, which has called for the FBI to step in all these cases. The Justice Department has been slow in responding to these incidents involving Black officials. Where’s Homeland Security?

The Louisiana NAACP state president Earnest L. Johnson tells me: “We have been real busy down here. I, along with the regional office in Baltimore, have contacted the FBI and the DOJ; we are not taking these attacks lightly.� A fresh election is being schedule later this month in Westlake for Mayor Washington’s office.

The DOJ did not respond to my email messages or phone calls on two separate occasions seeking information. The hard questions continue:

Why would Washington use his own money to campaign to become the mayor, win, get sworn in, make up stationery, and learn the alarm system only to kill himself?

Why would he drive by himself 15 minutes away from Westlake City Hall to a deserted parking lot leaving no note behind for someone to find? Why would he want to kill himself when he had so much to look forward to; i.e., officially running the city in two days? Why would he want to kill himself right before the birthday he shared with his own mother – January 6th? Why would he get out of his truck to kill himself?

Why was his truck detailed and driven from the crime scene? Why didn’t the Sheriff find the bullet? Why did the Sheriff reopen the crime scene before daylight? Why did the Sheriff call in the Fire Department to wash down the crime scene? Why did the Sheriff treat this death as an unknown person or an ordinary citizen? Why weren’t any fingerprints taken? Why wasn’t any forensic work done?

Why did the coroner list the death a suicide so quickly? Why was the crime scene destroyed?

This is one smelly “suicide.�

My column focuses on investigating suspicious cases of every nature. If you have any comments or something that needs looking into Email: or; call (212) 481-7745.  Write to: On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423. Together we can get the justice everyone just talks about.

Columnist note: If you tuned in to Black talk radio WLIB 1190 AM with Imhotep Gary Byrd’s, “Mind flight,� which once aired Monday thru Thursday mornings from 12:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M., and are like most of us – ‘tired of being dumbed-down because of a lack of news and information in your community and around the city.’  Tell WLIB management, “I want to listen to the old Black talk radio program listed above.  One day is a disservice to our communities,� contact: Deon Levingston, Vice President and General Manager, WLIB Radio, 3 Park Avenue, New York New York 10016; telephone – 212-592-0426.  Send me your response and any reply and I will print it in this column.  Let’s stay informed.

Watch Manhattan cable channel 34 or channel 34 every Sunday at 7:30 P.M. for news updates and other articles. 


To subscribe to New York’s favorite Pan-African weekly investigative newspaper or to send us news tips please call (212) 481-7745 or contact

“Speaking Truth To Empower,� is our motto.

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