Witnesses recall man "wigging out" before tussle with police - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Witnesses recall man "wigging out" before tussle with police

Posted: Updated:
Witnesses recall seeing Christmas with a crack pipe. Witnesses recall seeing Christmas with a crack pipe.
Shreveport police are identifying the man who died shortly after he fought with officers Saturday night as 44-year-old Jerome Dexter Christmas. (Source: Shreveport Police Department) Shreveport police are identifying the man who died shortly after he fought with officers Saturday night as 44-year-old Jerome Dexter Christmas. (Source: Shreveport Police Department)
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Witnesses say 44-year-old Jerome Dexter Christmas was carrying a crack pipe just before an altercation with police Saturday that ended in his death.  They say he was walking down the 1100 block of Highland Avenue just after 6:00 p.m., behaving oddly just before stripping down to his underwear.

Police say they tried to apprehend Christmas, but he fought back and then passed out.  Some witnesses claim the officers used excessive force.

Chase Thibodeaux is resident at Shreveport Teen Challenge, a rehabilitation center just across the street from where Christmas began taking off his clothes. Thibodeaux says he saw the entire situation unfold, "He was trembling, 'Get off me, get off me.'  He was in another world, really."

Joe Burrage, another resident at Shreveport Teen Challenge says, "He just started wigging out and going crazy."

Burrage recalls seeing a crack pipe in Christmas' hands.  He says, "He dropped that, along with a lighter."

Burrage adds that he's seen several other people react the way Christmas did.  "Your body heats up really fast, a lot of people take their clothes off. You get that super-human type feeling that strength. You see and hear things that aren't there."

"I wanted to help him so bad but I know somebody in that state of mind, he would have probably hurt me," says Thibodeaux.

Christmas later died of what the coroner says was a heatstroke and cardiac arrest.  His temperature was still just over 102 degrees a full two hours after his death.

Dr. Mary Jo Fitzgerald, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the LSU Health Medical School says there are a number of reasons a person may show the types of symptoms the witnesses claimed they saw.  

"It's like a terrible nightmare, they are very frightened. If you're having this horrific experience happening to you, you can become upset and you're going to fight."

Thibodeaux had hoped for a better outcome.  "Maybe if he wouldn't have gone and got his fix and he would have just passed by here. We could have helped him."

The Shreveport Teen Challenge is free and open to anyone looking for help. They'll be hosting a Walk-A-Thon on May 17th to spread addiction awareness. 

For more information on the Shreveport Teen Challenge, Click Here.

Copyright 2014 KSLA. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow