Dallas activist C.d. Kirven told Dallas Voice today, via email, that efforts to get Tulsa police to investigate the death of gay man Benny Longoria are moving forward.
A friend found Longoria, 40, dead in his apartment on June 20. But the man’s family said police did not contact them until a month later, that police had Longoria’s body cremated without notifying them and that police have refused to return his possessions, including his cell phone.
A representative of the company that manages the apartment complex where Longoria lived said that the apartment and most of his possessions were covered in blood when his naked body was found. Police have refused to investigate the case as a suspicious death.
Kirven learned of the situation earlier this week when Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano contacted her and asked if she could help the Longorio family find answers.
Today, Kirven said the case is being investigated as possible HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, and that she has helped the Longoria family filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kirven also said she is helping the family file a complaint with the Internal Affairs division of the Tulsa Police Department.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker reportedly told the family that Benny Longoria’s doctor verified that he died of a combination of ethanol abuse and HIV/AIDS. But Kirven said that when she contacted the office of Longoria’s physician, Dr. Frances Haas, she was told that Dr. Haas had not confirmed any cause of death and had not signed a death certificate.
Kirvin said today that she has obtained a copy of Longoria’s death certificate, which has not been signed by any doctor. She said Dr. Haas is mailing Benny Longoria’s medical records to his family and “wants nothing to do with Benny’s death.”
She also said that Capt. Alexander has said that because the doctor has not signed the death certificate, by law Longoria’s death has to be investigated as a suspicious death.
A memorial in celebration of Benny Longoria will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. at Compadres Mexican Grill, 7104 S. Sheriden Rd., in Tulsa. For information contact C.d. Kirven at 972-533-1593.
Kirven said that several TV stations have said they will be covering the memorial service and vigil, and that she was faxing a copy of the death certificate to KRMG radio in Oklahoma City, which is planning coverage of the case. She has also talked to a reporter with Vice.com.
Tulsa-based reporter Richard Fricker called Dallas Voice today in an effort to contact Kirven, and said that he knows of similar cases that have happened in Tulsa.
Dallas Voice will, of course, continue to follow this story as it unfolds, and will have a representative at the memorial service in Tulsa on Saturday.