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Letter to the governor / March 17, 2016

(The following open letter to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was written by Linwood Lambert Sr., father of Linwood Raymond Lambert Jr., who died in the custody of South Boston police in May 2013. The letter was provided to the N&R for publication in Viewpoint — Ed.)

Dear Sir:

On behalf of my family, I would like to first thank you for taking the step to urge the local prosecutor, Tracy Quackenbush Martin to finish the job in the case of Linwood Raymond Lambert, Jr.’s suspicious death in May 2013 in South Boston, Virginia. We are asking if you would please assist us with getting answers to what really happened to our son, brother, father and grandfather. There seems to be a deliberate effort to delay a decision as to whether or not the police officers involved will be charged with any type of criminal activity. Please note the following:

The State Police investigation (Linwood Raymond Lambert, Jr, Suspicious Death, File number 13-83-02-04890) conducted under the leadership of Officer John Reiger (in my opinion) was not thorough as it was presented to the State’s Attorney’s Office. The investigating officers took the depositions of the police officers (Tiffany Bratton, Travis Clay and Clifton Mann) but did not question the discrepancies in what they reported as it related to the video. The video clearly showed that the depositions were untrue, i.e. reaching for Taser (he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back), that he kept jumping up – he never got to his feet at any time. The report mentioned that the video was reviewed, but made no mention of what was viewed or the discrepancies in the officers’ depositions and the videos. How was this an acceptable investigation when only the officers’ depositions were included? Isn’t there a law against lying in an investigation? If nothing else at the moment the officers (in my opinion) should be charged with obstruction of justice. At this point, I am questioning why Tiffany Bratton, Travis Clay and Clifton Mann continue to serve the South Boston community as police officers.

Further, the video shows that my son never resisted anything, but was tased because of his inability to follow their commands as instructed while on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. Officer Tiffany Bratton yelled out to him, “I’m going to pop you again” as he pleaded for his life. She further stated to the other Officers, “Ain’t nothing wrong with this MF”. My son obviously exited the patrol car to make an effort to get to the hospital doors. The officer should have placed a seatbelt on him for the ride to the hospital in the patrol car which would have prevented him from exiting the car on his own accord. Handcuffed behind his back, he was unable to effectuate the opening of the doors to get into the hospital and for that he was tased repeatedly. He was further tased in the car because he couldn’t sit up (hands and feet shackled). The Taser was then placed on his body. At that point anyone could see him trying to breath and sweating. The officer mentioned that “he’s bleeding like a hog.” It appears as though he died at that point. According to Taser International, Officer Tiffany Bratton discharged her Taser 15 of the 20 times the Tasers were discharged by the three Officers at the hospital and in the patrol car. Prior to leaving for the jail, Officer Clifton Mann then proceeded to stand outside of the car (10-15 minutes) and speak with a hospital employee as to whether or not my son was going to be taken into the hospital. Officer Mann stated that he thought my son was crazy and that he had told him he had taken some cocaine. Of course the decision was stated as a negative to the question regarding taking my son into the hospital. My question is why wasn’t he taken into the hospital for the mental evaluation as the officers’ reason for driving him there?

As a native Virginian, I was raised in Saxe and spent my childhood and formative years in Charlotte County. Our family roots for generations are there in Charlotte County, Virginia. Many of the members of our extended family are still residents of Southern Virginia. As a result of the aforementioned death of my son, Linwood Raymond Lambert, Jr, there are memories being brought back to surface which I have long tried to suppress. There were some troubled times (for me) spent in that area relative to “the way things were” in the 50’s and 60’s, however, I remain a proud son of Virginia.

In summation, words cannot express the trauma through which I along with my family has experienced. Losing a child (my only son) is extremely devastating within itself because (as you know) it is not the natural order of things. In addition, the manner in which my son died adds to the devastation. My entire life has been drastically affected including the inability to sleep through nights. My daughters are experiencing the same effects. Thus, we are spending our days and nights in constant communication questioning why and what will be done. We are unable to focus on our work and just general day to day activities. It’s been almost three years thus, we are seeking some form of closure. We are asking your assistance, support and reassurance that the law is appropriately applied in a timely manner.

Linwood Lambert Sr.

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