Family members confirmed Friday, Aug. 8, that they will go ahead with a planned memorial service for Benny Longoria, a gay man found dead in his apartment on June 20. Longoria’s family members are pushing for Tulsa police to investigate his death, but police have said he died of natural causes and no investigation is necessary.
Benny Longoria’s sister, Elvia Longoria of Dallas, said the memorial will be held at 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, at Compadres Mexican Grill, 7104 Sheridan Rd., Tulsa, Okla., 74133.
Elvia Longoria also said that her family on Friday filed a complaint with the state medical board against Deputy Chief Medical Examiner John Latner, M.D., and Benny’s physician, Dr. Frances Haas, over statements concerning a certificate of death for Benny Longoria. The family said the death certificate was never signed, and that Dr. Haas had told Elvia Longoria and C.d. Kirven, a Dallas activist helping the family in their search for answers, that she had not and would not sign the death certificate because she did not see Benny’s body after he died.
The family has also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice alleging discrimination against Benny Longoria in regards to the investigation into his death because he had HIV. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits HIV-related discrimination. And the family has filed an internal affairs complaint regarding with Capt. Richard Alexander and Police Chief Chuck Jordan with the Tulsa Police Department. Elvia Longoria also said that any further inquiries from the press should be directed to Kirven, who will be acting as a spokesperson for the family.
Elvia Longoria told Dallas Voice Friday in a written statement: “My family, my brother Benny and C.d. Kirven have been mistreated by Tulsa police. My brother should have been treated with respect and his memory honored, but instead we have needed the help of Adam Merdrano and C.d. Kirven to get simple answers about the circumstances around my brother’s death.
“We are devastated by his loss and by the way he was treated. This is about honoring my little brother and his family making sure the world knows Benny was not alone. He was beloved and we will fight to find out what happen to him on June 20, 2014, because there is no official or signed records — only unsigned draft copies. Thank you and we hope the LGBT community comes out to support us at his memorial,” she said.
Tulsa police have denied that the case was mishandled and have accused Kirven of lying in her statements to Dallas Voice and other media outlets. Police have also disputed the family’s claim there is no signed death certificate.