In Jackson, Miss., three police officers accused of causing the death of a 61-year-old Black man on January 13, 2019, are now charged with second-degree murder.
Desmond Barney, 31; Lincoln Lampley, 33; and Anthony Fox, 35 were indicted in the January 2019 death of George Robinson, according to court documents filed last week.
The officers, at the time all with Jackson Police Department, body slammed Robinson headfirst into pavement and struck and kicked him in the head and chest after removing him from a vehicle, the grand jury alleges in the indictment.
Robinson, 61, ultimately was not arrested, and died two days after the encounter, CNN affiliate WLBT reported. A coroner ruled the death a homicide by blunt force trauma, according to WLBT.
It’s egregious enough that the officers—all of whom are Black—allegedly engaged in the cruel brutalization of an elderly man they didn’t even know for certain had done anything wrong, but what makes things worse is that Robinson reportedly had nothing to do with what they were called to the scene for.
According to WLBT, the three officers were investigating a killing when they spotted what they suspected was a drug transaction in progress. The officers forcibly removed Robinson from his car because he wouldn’t show his hands, according to their report, but they eventually released him without charges.
Robinson’s family said in a statement that they are “pleased that the Jackson police officers involved in his death have finally been charged with murder” and that “the charges prove that George’s life mattered and no one deserves to die the way he did.”
Of course, the attorneys for the indicted officers insist their clients did nothing wrong.
“This is something that should have never been indicted, and every police officer that works particularly in Jackson and in this county could find themselves in this position,” Francis Springer, attorney for Officer Lampley, told WLBT. (It’s wild that he believes Jackson police officers could find themselves in the position of being accused of killing suspects by blunt force trauma, but he thinks the hypothetical accusations are the issue, not the hypothetical killings.)
Springer also told CNN that “the accusations expressed in the indictments are not correct and are not supported by our evidence” and said that the officers “broke no law, nor did they use excessive force in dealing with Mr. Robinson.”
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba issued a statement on the indictments on Thursday night:
“Our administration is committed to ensuring that Jacksonians have an accountable police department. As part of our accountability process, the City of Jackson has implemented a policy to turn all cases involving officer-involved deaths over to the DA for review by a grand jury. The Hinds County grand jury indictments, issued today, begin another phase of the process. In the full spirit of transparency, the administration will continue to monitor the situation and provide information to the public throughout each phase. We ask that you keep all those affected by this tragedy in your prayers.”
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