What happened to Lamar Johnson? According to a change.org petition created by his mother something isn’t right about the death of her son. On May 26, 2015 Lamar was pulled over for having illegal tint in his vehicle in Baker while going to pick up his grandmother from dialysis. Lamar informed the officer that he had a warrant for a traffic violation in another parish. Lamar was subsequently arrested for the warrant. The arresting officer who isn’t named in the petition called his mother to let her know what was going on with her son. The arresting officer assured her that she had nothing to worry about, that Lamar would be ok. Linda Franks, Lamar’s mother told the officer “Lamar is a good man,” to which the officer responded, “I can tell.”
By Wednesday morning, Mrs. Frank said in her change.org petition she “was concerned about the fact that no progress had been made as far as moving him to the parish where the original traffic warrant was outstanding. I began making phone calls and reached out to a lawyer. Everyone, even Lamar himself, told me Lamar’s case was small potatoes. This only further concerned me considering no bail had been set yet and even the charges remained to be filed. As minor as everyone, including Lamar, was convinced his situation was, we remained in an inexplicable limbo.”
By Friday no bail had been set for Lamar, his mother became even more concerned. She got word after calling daily that he was being transferred to the parish that the infraction happened and thought that was a sign of things preparing to come to an end. On Monday she went to New Orleans expecting to be able to get her son, only to find out according to her change.org petition that he was never released to transfer from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. She then called Parish prison and found out Lamar was in the hospital. Mrs. Frank was not allowed to see Lamar and was forced to prove to the warden that she was his mother. All she was able to find out is that he was in the trauma neurological care unit. According to the petition the warden told her that on Saturday Lamar acted out and was placed in isolation. That Lamar had tried to commit suicide.
When Lamar entered the hospital, they diagnosed his condition as a total brain injury, caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain according to Mrs. Frank. “While he maintained life in his brain stem initially, he was breathing only with the assistance of a ventilator. On Monday, June 8, he began to show signs of brain herniation. On June 10, at 1:17 P.M. my son, Lamar, was pronounced dead,” says Mrs. Franks’ account.
After reading Mrs. Franks account of what happened I’m left perplexed. What happened to this healthy young man while in parish prison for a traffic violation? To tell the family that he attempted to commit suicide makes absolutely no sense. The arresting officer came to the hospital to see Lamar and his mother and told her that he was in good spirits about everything because he was glad he would get to clear his name. Now he’s dead? I think that there is certainly some explanation due to the family. Where is the video footage from the prison? Where are the incident reports about what happened? Why is it two weeks after his death and his mother still doesn’t have answers.
With the climate of race relations and the data that is now surfacing about police brutality towards black men, I question why this story is just now seeing the light of day. If there is no foul play then questions should’ve been answered. No mother should ever have to put out a public petition to get answers when the death of her child happened due to events that happened while under the supervision of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.