Updated as of 8/23/2023 of 1:30 p.m. ET
Turns out the issues with the Brookhaven Police Department are not exclusive to their missteps in the trial for two white men who attacked a Black FedEx driver (and was later fired by the company for his troubles).
Bobby Moak, the city attorney in Brookhaven, Miss., told NBC News the town’s board of aldermen unanimously voted to hire an “outside expert” to review the department in response to a scandalous report last month by a grand jury. The jury accused the department of “poorly investigating their cases,” witness blaming, complacency and arresting people without cause. Brookhaven is a majority-Black city that sits about 55 miles south of Jackson, the Mississippi capital.
Also on the list of the department’s alleged shortcomings was the habit of giving conflicting statements, an overall lack of training and closing investigations while they’re incomplete—all of which contributed to a mistrial in the case against Brandon and Gregory Case, a father and son accused of chasing and firing shots at former FedEx driver D’Monterrio Gibson. The Cases are white; Gibson is Black.
“For them to give a report like that, there must be some kind of meat to the source,” said Board of Aldermen member Andre Spiller via NBC.
In January 2022, Gibson was dropping off packages in Brookhaven, Miss. wearing his uniform but riding a delivery van without the company logo. Authorities say the Cases followed him for 15 minutes in their pickup truck before getting out of the car, firing shots at the vehicle while Gibson was inside and commencing to a vehicle chase until he was out of town.
During the trial hearings this week, Brookhaven Police Department detective Vincent Fernando testified that the Cases made calls to one another moments before Gregory called to report a suspicious vehicle with driver “up to no good.” Yet, no information was given about the content of their conversations prior. Shortly after their 911 call, the detective said Gibson called the police to report that his van was shot at.
However, outside the presence of the jury, the detective mentioned a crucial piece of evidence that neither side of the court had been presented.
Read more from The Daily Leader:
Judge David Strong ruled detective Vincent Fernando failed to turnover all his evidence file to the district attorney’s office before a Grand Jury indictment and also failed to share the evidence with defense attorneys. The ruling came in the first day of testimony in the case of Brandon and Gregory Case.
During testimony, Fernando produced a disk containing video of Gibson’s statements much to the surprise of District Attorney Dee Bates and the defense attorneys. After meeting in the judge’s chambers, Strong told the courtroom it would take some time to hash out what to do with the surprise evidence.
According to NPR, this wasn’t the only slip up. A police officer also improperly testified about the guns recovered from the home of one of the defendants. Circuit Judge David Strong said he had no choice but to grant the defense’s motion for a mistrial, per CNN. Gibson’s attorney, Carlos Moore, accused the department of doing “shoddy work” in their investigation and accused them of intentionally withholding the missing video.
“I believe this was dilatory, a delay tactic, because they have always been on the side of the Cases, it seems,” Moore said via CNN.
It was previously speculated that the Cases had personal ties to the police department and former chief. It’s also alleged they received special treatment after the incident, per Mother Jones. The attorney representing Gibson, Carlos Moore, echoed this allegation of the men being “too close to the kitchen” and accused the police of not doing a thorough investigation.
This is the second blow Gibson has taken trying to get justice from the attack. A judge previously dismissed his federal lawsuit against FedEx, the Cases and the police department after failing to prove the attack was racially motivated. However, he told CNN he plans to file additional lawsuits in the case and believes the men will be tried again.