Dial Dalfred: Alleged inmate suicide; family in disbelief

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IBERIA PARISH, La. (KLFY) – Loved ones of Raymond Bonnette Sr. are looking for answers after being told he killed himself in the Iberia Parish Jail. He was picked up July 18th for a non-violent offense, three days later he was dead.
Wyoletta Welch is the mother of Raymond Bonnette Sr. She says, “He had no reason to take his life and I know he wouldn’t because he had a 7,3,2, and a 1 year old. He loved those kids to death. He would not do that. He would not leave his kids behind like that.”

On July 18th, Bonnette was picked up for delinquent child support payments. Being held on a $4,200 bond, his mother assured him she would post his bail Wednesday.

“I spoke to my son the night before this happened. It was 11 o’clock that night. He was happy, he understood I was coming get him”, said Welch.

In 2016, nine deputies pled guilty to beating inmates at the Iberia Parish Jail. With that type of checkered history happening behind the gates, the family of Bonnette just doesn’t believe the story that he killed himself.

We asked Raymond’s family if he had a history of mental illness or depression? His mother told us no. “He did not have any illness or anything like that. He was a private person, he always had a smile, and if he had some issues he would talk to us about anything that was going on.”

Khadijah Rashad is a well known activist in Iberia Parish, she’s also Bonnette’s grandmother. Knowing some of the horror stories that have come out of the jail, make her question her grandson’s cause of death.

“Because he wasn’t a violent young man. What is it that he actually told y’all where y’all feel y’all had to kill him? And then after y’all killed him y’all covered it up like it was a suicide”, Rashad said.

We also reached out to administrators at the jail— where there has been a complete overhaul since the inmate beatings in 2011.

Cpt. Mike Hollier with Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office said changes have been made and more are coming to ensure past crimes don’t happen again. He told us they’re hiring more people, performing phycological evaluations for candidates(since 2013), and doing more cell checks to keep out contraband of the jail.

As it relates to Bonnette, his family is now waiting for the results of the autopsy. The coroner says that can take between 8 to 10 weeks.

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