Rodricus Crawford sues after being convicted, then cleared in son's death

Published: Nov. 17, 2017 at 3:28 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 at 10:01 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A man once convicted of killing his year-old son has now filed a lawsuit against 11 different entities after he was cleared of all charged.

Rodricus Crawford was first arrested back on February 16, 2012, for 1st Degree Murder and spent the last nearly five years in custody and three of those years on Death Row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Then his conviction was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court of Louisiana on November 6, 2016

Nine doctors from throughout the country had testified that Crawford's son, one-year-old Roderius Lott, died of natural causes after battling pneumonia.

Now Crawford is suing the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office, District Attorney James Stewart, the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office, Caddo Parish Coroner Todd Thoma, Dr. James Traylor, who performed the autopsy on Lott, the Shreveport Fire Department, SFD Paramedics Sharon Sullivan and Daniel Mars, former First Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox, John Does 1-99 as employees or agents of Caddo Parish 911 and Shreveport Police Department and ABC Insurance Companies 1-10 as insurance companies who cover one or more of these defendants.

EXCLUSIVE: Rodricus Crawford talks about his journey from Death Row...

Even though Crawford is now a free man, he told KSLA in a previous interview that he will always carry the memories of being on Death Row while knowing he was innocent and that he would never hold his son again.

"I seen a man sign a death certificate and I'm innocent," he told KSLA back on April 26. "You seeing that right there? And they're telling you, reading paperwork, they're saying I should die a slow and painful death for something I didn't do?"

The lawsuit alleges all of these agencies violated Crawford's rights of due process in the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

According to the lawsuit, when Crawford and his family members called 911 when Lott was not moving or breathing, dispatchers sent police units as well as paramedics because of the neighborhood Crawford lived in and the paramedics falsely claimed to see bruising on Lott's body and also falsely claimed Crawford told them that Lott fell off the bed.

The lawsuit reads SPD officers took Crawford back to the police station for interrogation and arrested him days later for murder.

Dr. Traylor was the physician contracted by the coroner's office to perform the autopsy on Lott.

The lawsuit reads: "He determined that the injuries to the child were the result of child abuse, and, combined with the contusions to the lips, Roderius' death was 'more likely than not' a smothering."

But Traylor also took a blood culture and tissue samples from Lott's lungs and did not wait for the results of the tissue samples before announcing that Lott's death was a homicide, according to the lawsuit.

Had Traylor waited for the results, the lawsuit reads, he would have seen that "the blood culture tested positive for alpha hemolytic streptococcus bacteria" and that Lott had pneumonia in all five lobes of his lungs, "causing septic shock and death."

After Crawford's conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the lawsuit reads Caddo Parish District Attorney James Stewart dismissed all the charges against him but "required Mr. Crawford's family to shoulder payment of $50,000 bond to secure his release."

"From the first responders on the scene to the current district attorney's decision to make Mr. Crawford post a bond after his conviction was reversed, this case was infected with a racial bias from start to finish," Crawford's lead attorney, David Utter, said.

While the lawsuit does not name a specific monetary amount in damages, it does ask for a jury trial to determine that.

"It will be up to a jury to determine what having five years of his life stolen from him is worth," Crawford's attorney, William Claiborne, said.

KSLA did reach out to the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office for a statement regarding the lawsuit but they told us they have no comment.

Our calls to the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office were not able to be returned on Friday and our attempts to get a statement from the Shreveport Fire Department have so far been unsuccessful.

Crawford's attorneys filed this lawsuit on Thursday. A trial date has not been set.

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