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Modesto Reyes' Family, Attorneys Say Independent Autopsy Shows He Was Shot In The Back By Police

Tegan Wendland
From left: Malcolm Suber with the New Orleans Worker's Group, attorneys Christopher Murell and Ron Haley, Reyes' brother, Alfonso Roland and attorney Dedrick Moore.

The family and attorneys of Modesto Reyes want answers from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) after his death in May.

They held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce the results of an independent autopsy.

Reyes was shot by police after a chase on May 27. The killing has gotten widespread local attention in the wake of the social justice movement following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police last month.

Reyes was a welder and survived the Hard Rock Hotel collapse last year.

The JPSO says the shooting was justified, but attorneys want to see an eight-second taser video of the incident. They say their autopsy shows Reyes was shot in the back.

The JPSO has said Reyes pointed a gun at officers, but attorneys say he had two guns in his bag, not in his hands.

Attorney Dedrick Moore called for the department to get body cameras. Addressing concerns about the cost, he said, “Children could have their fathers back, mothers could have their sons back. … No longer should the cost be too high for the citizens of Louisiana. We ask for change and we need it now.”

An unarmed 14-year-old was also shot by the JPSO a few months ago. The attorneys say they plan to file lawsuits against the department.

Sheriff Joe Lopinto held a press conference Tuesday afternoon in response, saying the investigation is ongoing and accusing the family and lawyers of spreading false information.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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