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Dexter Wade’s Death and Burial Not ‘Malicious,’ Jackson Mayor Says As Mom Retains Attorney Ben Crump

JACKSON, Miss.—Dexter Wade’s death after being struck by an off-duty police officer in an SUV and Hinds County’s subsequent decision to bury him in an unmarked grave without informing his mother of his death was “tragic,” but “there was no malicious intent,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said Thursday.

Wade was walking across the southbound lane of Interstate 55 when the unnamed Jackson Police officer hit and killed him on March 5. Though the coroner’s office ruled it an accident and was able to positively identify him within days, the 37-year-old man’s body remained in a morgue until the County buried him in an unmarked grave at its penal farm in late July.

Dexter Wade was walking along Interstate 55’s southbound lane on the evening of March 5, 2023, when an off-duty Jackson Police officer in an SUV fatally struck him. His mother would not find out until late August 2023. Photo courtesy Wade family.

His mother, Bettersten Wade, filed a missing person’s report on March 14, but JPD did not inform her of her son’s death until late August.

“They had me looking for him all that time, and they knew who he was,” Bettersten Wade told NBC News’ Jon Schuppe, who first reported this story on Wednesday.

While delivering his 2023 State of the City address at The Rookery in downtown Jackson on Thursday, Lumumba called for a moment of silence in recognition of Dexter Wade’s death.

“We recognize the tremendous loss that his mother suffered and his family suffered, we lift them up in our prayers collectively as a city and continue to support them.”

Lumumba made a point of saying that “there was no malicious intent” in Wade’s death.

“There was a lack of communication with the missing person’s division, the coroner’s office and accident investigation. Because of that, they were unable to find (Dexter Wade’s) family within an expeditious period of time and he was later buried once the coroner went to the Hind’s County Board of Supervisors in order to get permission to do so,” the mayor said.

The Hinds County coroner’s office investigator

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