The initial findings of an independent autopsy performed on former New Orleans Saints defensive end Glenn Foster Jr. suggest he was strangled when he died in the custody of Alabama authorities earlier this month.
“Glenn Foster’s death, while in the Pickens County sheriff’s custody and care, was not from natural causes, as the independent autopsy suggests there was some evidence of neck compressions and strangulation,” read a statement released Friday by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been retained by the ex-NFL pro’s family. “As we continue to investigate the case, we are learning that Mr. Foster’s death in Pickens County appears to be part of a disturbing trend of Black men dying while in the custody of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.”
The Alabama state agency leading the investigation into the 31-year-old’s death on Dec. 6 has not released its findings from a separate autopsy that has been completed.
The deadly series of events started when officers in the town of Reform, Alabama spotted Foster driving 90 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone the night of Dec. 3. Foster was diagnosed as bipolar in 2010, and his parents said they fear he was suffering a manic episode when officers chased him into a neighboring town.
Police used a spike strip to flatten Foster’s tires. He crashed his vehicle and officers booked him into the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office’s jail on charges of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and attempting to elude police.
Foster’s family said that after learning of his arrest they notified Reform Police Chief Richard Black of his history of mental illness. Foster’s parents, with Black’s help, arranged to bail their son out and send him to Birmingham for a hospital evaluation on Dec. 5.
But before that happened, Foster’s jailers booked him on allegations that he tried to steal a fellow inmate’s socks, then beat him before guards intervened.
That delayed Foster’s release and hospital trip, and Foster remained jailed until Monday, when deputies put him in a patrol car and tried to get him to a hospital in Northport, which is closer to Pickens County than Birmingham. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
Authorities haven’t attributed a cause or manner to Foster’s death. But Crump’s statement on Friday said his clients’ independent autopsy suggests someone killed their son while he was in the Pickens sheriff’s custody.
The statement from Crump, along with associates Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmerman and Robert F. “Bobby” DiCello, stops short of explicitly saying who the family suspects killed Foster.
But their statement alluded to at least one other similar case. In the wake of Foster’s death, The Daily Beast reported on the death of Michael Broady Jr., 40, a Black man who died at the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office’s jail on Aug. 22 after the agency arrested him. A court filing from Broady’s family alleges that he was shocked with a stun gun during his arrest.
“Keeping people in your custody alive is literally the lowest bar we can set for a law enforcement agency,” the statement from Crump’s team said. “Pickens County owes the family the truth relating to Mr. Foster’s death.”
Many in New Orleans remember Foster for making the Saints in 2013 as an undrafted rookie from the University of Illinois. In his first year with the team, he recorded three quarterback sacks as the Saints went 12-6 and won the franchise’s first road playoff victory.
He missed most of the 2014 season due to injury and was cut in 2015.
Foster — who was married and had four children — stayed in southeast Louisiana, launched a granite countertop business with retail stores in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and donated to charity.
Crump announced on Dec. 10 that Foster’s family had retained him. In recent years, he has won settlements totaling in the tens of millions of dollars for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
A Minneapolis police officer murdered Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. A video of the encounter set off worldwide protests.
Taylor was shot dead last year by police during a raid in her Louisville, Kentucky, home.