Documentary explores controversial death of Victor White III while in New Iberia police custody
Discovery Communication’s Investigation Discovery is exploring the controversial death of a New Iberia man who police say shot himself while handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car.
The show, “Sugar Town” will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Victor White III, who was 22, on March 2, 2014,
Called the “Houdini Handcuff Case” by some in the state, White’s killing has brought simmering racial tensions to a boil in the small town known for its sugar cane production.
New Iberia residents are separated by railroad tracks—residents to the north of the tracks are predominantly white, while largely Black neighborhoods lie to the south.
Kimberly Nordyke reported in The Hollywood Reporter, “The tracks created a strong history of racial divide predating the American Civil War in New Iberia, and many residents would argue that a Jim Crow south is still very much alive.”
“Sugar Town” will focus on the central mystery of what might have happened to White and chronicles the family’s search for justice for their son’s suspicious death while in police custody.
The investigation also reveals “a larger story of power, corruption and racial injustice nestled within a divided southern town, with Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal — a man shrouded in controversy — at the center,” according to the network.
“Victor White III was a father, a son, a brother — and sadly, I fear, a victim of injustices rooted in New Iberia,” said Henry Schleiff, group president for Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Tragedies like these unfortunately catapult people into becoming activists, and we are humbled to share the White family’s crusade for answers in Sugar Town. We are reminded that corruption and racism exist in our society, today, and we hope that ID’s airing of this documentary will help spark informed dialogue about larger social injustices to ensure that White’s death was not in vain.”
White’s family members, including his father, the Reverend Victor White; mother, Vanessa; and two of his eight siblings, sister Lakeisha and brother L.C. are featured in the documentary along with local radio journalist Tony Brown, The Daily Iberian journalist Dwayne Fatheree, and activist Donald Broussard. Anthony Daye, who said he experienced brutality at the hands of New Iberia’s law enforcement, civil rights attorney Clayton Burgess, and the White family’s attorney, Carol Powell Lexing are interviewed in the documentary.
The two-hour program premieres at 7pm CST on Monday, Aug. 6.