KINGS MOUNTAIN, NORTH CAROLINA - A family is suing Kings Mountain Police for wrongful death after a man shot and killed himself in the back of a police car. Their attorney says police did not frisk or handcuff John White Jr.
The lawsuit has been filed and an attorney tells Fox46 Charlotte the city and department have fifty days to respond.
"It's heartbreaking because I know this is the last heartbeat he had and I just wish he was still here," said Crystal Starr, his little sister. "I just felt helpless." Every day she looks at a print of her brother's last heart beat that she holds dear inside a bottle. The last time she held his hand was in the hospital before he was taken off life support.
"My brother was always my protector growing up and at that point there was a need to protect him and I couldn't do it."
Back in February of 2018, John White Jr. was pulled over by Kings Mountain Police and arrested for having drugs. While he was being booked into jail, he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head.
"If I would have known he was in trouble, he could have come to me," said Starr. "He actually spoke to my mom the night that it happened and told her he would see her tomorrow. And that never happened."
Now the family is suing for wrongful death. After the incident, a family attorney previously told Fox46 Charlotte that police did not follow protocol: "They did not pat him down, they did not frisk him, from what we understand they did not place him in cuffs," said Ronald Ingle. "But for the breach of protocol this man would arguably be alive today."
After four days on life support, John White Jr. died in the hospital. Two of his kidneys were donated to patients in need.
"Even though we make mistakes through-out our life that doesn't make us who we are, we are still a human being," said Starr.
Bearing pain that does not ease, Starr wears a tattoo of his nickname "June Bug" and a print of his last heartbeat, carrying her big brother wherever she goes: "He had a troubled past, but he loved us fiercely."