No federal charges in Louisiana man's police custody death

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — No federal charges will be filed against officials with a Louisiana sheriff's office in the death of a man who was fatally shot while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

The coroner in Iberia Parish, a coastal parish south of Lafayette, had already ruled that Victor White shot himself on the evening of March 2, 2014, despite being handcuffed behind his back while sitting in the car after a drug arrest.

Tuesday's Justice Department news release stopped short of conclusively stating that White shot himself, but it noted the coroner's ruling and independent experts' conclusions that White's fatal wound was self-inflicted.

"After a careful and thorough review of the evidence, federal prosecutors and FBI agents have determined that the evidence here is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any officer fired a weapon at Mr. White," the statement said.

The statement also noted expert opinions that the gun was close to the body when fired. It said gunshot residue was found on White's hands. And it said video showed that White had, earlier in the evening, reached his cuffed hands around to his front pants pocket. The fatal shot entered the right side of White's chest.

A spokesman for Sheriff Louis Ackal did not immediately respond to telephone calls and emails seeking comment. It remains unclear how White gained access to the .25-caliber handgun with which authorities believe he killed himself.

State police have not yet released the results of their investigation into the shooting.

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