Black man died of drug overdose, but family claims police coverup15
A drug dealer has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the death of Alfred Wright, a 28-year-old Jasper, Texas man whose body was found late last year.
The US attorney’s office in Beaumont announced Friday that Wright, a black physical therapist whose decomposing body was found in the woods on November 25th, died due to an overdose of drugs, which were sold to him by Shane Dewayne Hadnot.
According to witnesses, Wright’s truck had broken down on November 7th near a liquor store in eastern Texas. He called his wife, Lauren, and she sent Wright’s parents to help him. He is said to have then “put the phone in his sock and jogged north on Highway 87,” according to Friday’s indictment.
A search group organized by Wright’s family found his body 18 days after his disappearance. The body contained puncture wounds, and some body parts were missing. Authorities said that an overdose of cocaine, methamphetamine and Xanax is what killed Wright, and the wounds were due to animal scavenging and barbed wire. Wright’s family ponders a different possibility.
“I am really convinced that this is a follow-up to a full-fledged cover-up, and they’re using this young man as the fall guy, as the smoke screen,” Douglas Wright, Wright’s father, said to KFDM-TV of Hadnot’s arrest.
An official autopsy found the drugs in Wright’s body, and authorities said they discovered text message exchanges between Wright and his suspected drug dealer, Hadnot. The indictment states that one text message showed Wright requesting “1 gino and a 20 and 3 handles,” which, according to Hadnot, meant 1 gram of cocaine, $20 worth of methamphetamine and three tablets of Xanax, reported CNN.
Wright’s mother said she believes the drugs were pumped into her son, according to CNN. She and her family have also not forgotten the findings of the forensic pathologist they hired, who said she discovered evidence “suspicious of homicidal violence” on Wright’s body.
“The true killers, slaughterers, lynchmen and henchmen are walking free!” Wright’s sister, Kassilia, posted on Facebook. “Mr. Hadnot is merely being used as a scapegoat in an extensive and meticulous ploy to mask the truth.”
Wright, who was in an interracial relationship, lived in the same area in which James Byrd, Jr. was dragged to death by a gang of white supremacists in 1998.
“We can’t forget the history of the area because we’re both from here,” Lauren told Associated Press.
Although talk of a conspiracy has been circulating since Wright’s death, Texas officials have continued to deny such allegations and assert that the physical therapist’s relationship with Hadnot did indeed lead to his demise, reported KHOU News.
“I don’t expect people to just believe our indictment, but it is the product of hours and hours and hours of work, and a lot of expense and time, to find out what happened,” U.S. attorney for Texas’ eastern district John Malcolm Bales told Associated Press.
“I don’t have anything but sorrow for them, and we grieve for their loss,” he added. “But it’s not true that he was the victim of racial violence. What he was the victim of was a lesson there that recreational drug use is … incredibly foolish and it can cost you your life. And it cost Alfred Wright his.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee urged for the investigation of Wright to carry on. “Today I believe the work has started but it is not complete but at the same time it is urgent that community leaders and the lawyers of the NAACP continue to press forward for an expanded investigation from the United States Department of Justice based in Washington, DC.,” she said in a statement.
Hadnot, who pled not guilty, is being charged with two drug-distribution counts that caused Wright’s death. He has a detention hearing scheduled this week and faces up to 20 years to life in prison for each count.