The FBI will determine whether the civil rights of a man who died in Oklahoma City police custody were violated, the police chief confirmed Thursday.
Robin Leander Howard, 54, died in June after a physical confrontation with patrol officers Jeff Coffey and Doug Grady.
Flanked by two of Howard's sisters and his mother outside the police department, attorney David Slane said the family had a productive two-hour meeting Thursday with Chief Bill Citty.
Citty told the family the FBI became involved in the case early on.
“The chief was forthright in answering questions,” Slane said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction, and we felt like they were being open and candid in answering questions to the family.”
The encounter stood in marked contrast to the department's early involvement with family members. Police waited nine days to report the man's death and his family was not told Howard was in the hospital, sister Kimberly Turner said. Family members have accused police of a cover-up.
“We're just glad to know there is a third party involved,” Turner said.
The officers are on restricted duty as the department conducts an internal investigation into the use of force in the case, Citty said. The police chief said he will take into consideration the findings of an internal committee to help determine whether or not of force was justified. A decision on any disciplinary action for the officers rests with him.
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