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A Black Mom Spent Months Searching For Her Son—She Finally Learned He Was Killed By A Police Officer

A Black Mom Spent Months Searching For Her Son—She Finally Learned He Was Killed By A Police Officer
Ashleigh Coleman for NBC News

March 5 was the last time Bettersten Wade saw her middle child Dexter Wade. On March 14, she called the police to report that her adult son was missing. But she said the Jackson Police Department “told her they’d been unable to find him,” NBC News reports.

In what appears to be a cover-up by the Jackson police, Bettersten finally figured out what happened to her son, 172 days after he disappeared. Dexter was killed less than one hour after leaving the house. He was “struck by a Jackson police car as he crossed a nearby interstate highway.”

Egregiously, even though the police knew Dexter’s name in addition to Bettersten’s they still failed to reach out and contact, making the choice to let “his body go unclaimed for months in the county morgue.”

According to NBC News, it was difficult for her to contact them when her son went missing because of the fact that she didn’t trust the police.

Bettersten remembers that her mother had counseled her to not reach out to the authorities about Dexter. “My mama told me, ‘They’re not going to do anything,’” Bettersten recounted. “But I had to do something to find Dexter, and I thought that was the best way.”   

It seems that both Bettersten’s and her mom’s fears were justified. But this wasn’t their first family member to die after an encounter with the Jackson Police Department. “In 2019, her [Bettersten’s] 62-year-old brother died after a Jackson officer slammed him to the ground. The officer was convicted of manslaughter but is appealing.”

During the months prior to learning the truth, she never gave up hope of finding her son. Bettersten conducted her own search, canvassing the neighborhood, and staying in constant contact with the police department.

“She called someone every week and asked about her child,” said Carey Banks, one of Bettersten’s close friends who helped her search for Dexter. “She couldn’t get it off her mind. She was crazy about that boy.”

But every single time she called, it was to no avail—the police kept on saying “they had no information.”

While we may never learn exactly what happened that night, public records do “show that just before 8 p.m. on March 5, Dexter was walking across Interstate 55, a six-lane highway, when a Jackson police SUV driven by an off-duty corporal struck him in the southbound lanes.” Looking at the map, you can see that he “was less than a mile from his mother’s house.”

The corporal, did alert police about the crash and was injury-free. “He was not suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and was not given field sobriety tests. Nor was he cited for any traffic violations. The death was ruled accidental.”

Seven months later, Bettersten finally reunited with her son, after being directed to a numbered grave in “Hinds County jail’s penal farm.”

The Jackson Police Department has not responded to questions or commented on how they handled the situation.

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