Doressia McKee earned a rare victory against the Columbia police department to reopen her son, Freddie McKee’s death investigation. She spent two years searching for answers after her 37-year-old son died from an alleged drug overdose in 2020. However, conflicting evidence in the case affirmed McKee’s beliefs that the police did not properly investigate his death.
According to NBC News, Freddie sent what appeared to be his last text message to his mother at around 1:30 a.m. on July 8, 2020. He wanted to inform her about the Powerball jackpot that had increased to almost $70 million. If he became the jackpot winner, the 37-year-old had dreams of buying his family a new home.
“If I win, you already know what I’m gonna buy you and grandma and Aunt Gay,” McKee told his mother.
That morning, Freddie’s half-brother called Doressia with the heartbreaking news that her son was found dead outside his father’s house a few miles away. An autopsy revealed that Freddie had multiple cuts and bruises on his body, primarily to his elbows and knees. In addition, there were minor scrapes to his scalp and shoulders, and the fingernail on his right hand was partially missing.
After receiving the autopsy report, Doressia McKee was left with unanswered questions, wondering how this could have happened to her beloved son.
The medical examiner’s office in Columbia conducted a toxicology report to rule out any illegal substances that may have contributed to Freddie’s death. Initial testing on July 9 mentioned no illicit drugs in his system. However, a “corrected” report from the same office was issued two months later, stating that Freddie McKee had traces of a psychoactive stimulant known as eutylone in his body. While the medical examiner ruled his death as accidental, the death certificate dated Oct. 9 said there was “excess use of a drug,” per NBC News.
After Columbia police got involved, Doressia claimed the department did not thoroughly investigate her son’s death, nor did they interview witnesses or review all the evidence present at the time. She filed a complaint with the department’s Internal Affairs Division, alleging the police failed to investigate the case.
In the complaint, she cited crime or possibly foul play in the 37-year-old’s death, and the police’s actions were equivalent to a “cover-up.”
“We feel they failed to do so because this was just another Black male that they didn’t care about and felt his life wasn’t worthy of the same opportunity and equality that is given to all the other white suspicious death cases,” Doressia McKee said.
In April 2021, McKee filed a misconduct complaint against Columbia police, highlighting the department’s flaws while handling the case. Police Chief Geoff Jones responded to her letter six months later, stating that her accusations against the department were “unfounded” and “misconstrued.” He informed her that she could appeal to the Citizens Police Review Board.
McKee’s appeal suggested that Freddie could have been dragged on his back and purposely placed at the location where his body was found. After mentioning that the police failed to interview witnesses, McKee said one neighbor had called the police after encountering Freddie. Still, there was no information about what happened after the police responded to the call. According to a report from NBC News, the police department filed a restraining order against McKee after she requested police records.
The Columbia police department agreed to reopen the investigation following McKee’s appeal in November. She and her family members started to rejoice after the victory from the Citizens Police Review Board.
“It’s a breakthrough,” McKee symbolically said to her son. “It’s not a victory, but it’s a breakthrough.”