Mayor's Death: Something Smells

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[Column: On The Spot] In Westlake, La., a majority-white town with a population of 5,000, the first African-American mayor was elected and sworn into office December 29, 2006. 

The next day Mayor Gerald “Wash” Washington, 57, went right to work in the office he believed he would hold for the next four years at City Hall. He learned how to set the alarm system, made up letterhead stationery with his name and picture on it and lowered the American flag at half mast in respect for the late former President Gerald Ford.

That very same day, newly elected Mayor Gerald Washington was found dead with a single bullet in his chest lying straight on the ground in the Mossville parking lot – his former high school alma mater, approximately15 minutes from City Hall and in another jurisdiction.

Let’s say, God forbid, here in New York the morning headlines read – MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG FOUND DEAD—LISTED A SUICIDE. What would your first thoughts be? Then in that same hypothetical article, you read about the mayor’s family accusing the New York Police Department (NYPD) of conducting a poor investigation i.e., no fingerprints taken from the mayor’s vehicle before it was detailed and the New York Fire Department (NYFD) being called in to wash down the crime scene before any forensic evidence was collected.  What questions would you be thinking?  If they are not in the line of a, “Cover-up,” you’re not thinking at all. These are exactly what happened with reference to Mayor Washington.

Many questions could be raised in the handling of Mayor Washington’s death. He was not an ordinary Citizen, he was the mayor. His adult children Germaine Washington-Broussard and Geroski Washington questioned their father’s death being ruled a suicide by Dr. Terry Welke, Calcasieu Parish coroner who is a Forensic pathologist. Sheriff Tony Mancuso had “confidence” in his staff’s so-called investigation, however, his office refused to make any comments to the Black Star News.

Mayor Washington was a former Vietnam Veteran, a 32-year businessman and served 12-years in the City Council and gets disrespected at death. “This is the mayor. How do you rush to judgment and do a sloppy investigation; and if it is a suicide – why haven’t you done all the tests and things to confirm that it is a suicide?  There was no note.  No finger prints.  It’s very disturbing,” says Germaine, Washington’s daughter, referring to the sheriff and coroner’s office.

Someone in Louisiana want the world to believe, Mayor Washington campaigned to become the mayor, won the election, took time to be sworn in, went to City Hall to begin his leadership and then just decided it was time to go—and committed suicide. The billion dollar question is why? Something smells.

“My father was doing an external independent audit. He wasn’t using the same audit firm the city of Westlake former mayor used for 24-years. My father was fixing to get to the bottom of this and that’s the reason I believe he was assassinated,” stated Mayor Washington’s son, Geroski referring to Westlake’s money trail. Mayor Washington had been auditing the City’s books.

When the family learned there were no fingerprints taken or any forensic work done at the crime scene and the sheriff’s office kept changing their story, they called for a probe of Mayor Washington’s death. “The thing I can’t understand everybody I called, Rainbow PUSH, National Action Network, NAACP, Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus, congress people, senators, everybody keeps telling us, ‘We are coming to the family we knew your father personally,’ 35-days later nobody has shown-up yet,” added Geroski who went on to say, “Maybe it’s too small of a town and it’s not enough cameras down here.  I don’t know.”

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco who knew Mayor Washington personally sent in the State Police on January 3rd to take over the investigation. “The governor sent top people from the State Police who are investigating this death.  The governor said, she is going to make sure her team does everything that they can do to find out what happened,” continued Germaine, the daughter.

The State Police had taken Mayor Washington’s body to Baton Rouge for a second autopsy and continue to interview friends and family members of the mayor. Mayor Washington’s wife Mary was denied access to identify her husband’s body at the crime scene and when his son and daughter came to town, they too were turned away. “We never saw our father’s body for seven days and on two different occasions the coroner’s office refused our visit. It wasn’t until the State Police took over the investigation that we were able to view the body,” noted Geroski, the son. 

The information Mayor Washington’s children gave to the media and general public was how the police and fire personnel and the coroner handled their father’s death.  His daughter appeared via telephone on WLIB 1190 AM with Imhotep Gary Byrd here in New York to tell this story. Their account should have sparked loud cries for an outside independent investigation and the agencies involved should have been put on notice and made a subject to the investigation as well. 

Not taking anything from the Louisiana State Police, but clearly with the information given, and in the interest of justice – this elected official’s death warrants some kind of action from the Federal government. “If this is what you do for an elected official, I don’t even want you to tell me what you do for the average good Citizen who gets up everyday, pays his or her taxes and abides by the laws,” added Germaine. “We reached out to the Department of Justice, but the more people who call the better.”  The DOJ has not returned their calls.

Time is of the essence and we may never know what happened to Mayor Washington due to the mishandling or criminal tampering of a crime scene. Is there hope? “The case would have been wrapped up, but someone with new information came forward, we are going to check it out,” stated Lawrence McLeay, spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police. 
No timeline has been given as to when their investigation will be completed.   

There have been no press conferences relating to this death and the family is rightfully getting bitter about the way this whole ordeal has unfolded.  The family is also in the process of collecting funds for a reward to get more information about the death of Mayor Washington.

The Black Star News will continue to update this story as it develops.

Columnist’s note: If you have any investigative news tips you know where to find us. 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.  You have any comments contact Winkfield for his consideration regarding covering your own story.  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.

To comment on this article, or to advertise with us, or 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

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