Ann Miller Robinson, 74, of Shubuta, exclaimed: “They shot him in the back. And then they lied.”
Robinson’s son, Jamison Casey Dunigan, 44, was killed the night of May 21, 2020. Based on the sheriff’s report, he was accused of assault “in a verbal altercation.” Sheriff Todd Kemp later reported that Dunigan was armed, although the weapon he had was an obsolete shotgun that was almost impossible to fire. He reportedly used it to kill moccasins and rats that frequently came onto the family property that lies 16 miles away from the towns of Shubuta to the south and Quitman to the north.
On the morning of May 22, 2020, reports of the shooting were posted online, saying “The authorities were investigating an officer involved shooting which resulted in an armed and dangerous suspect being shot and killed overnight. The shooting occurred along County Road 621 near Carmichael.”
Robinson said the sheriff and his henchmen were passing [along] falsehood after falsehood to the public as the truth, and the MBI agents on the scene went along with their fables.
“They lied about the number of bullets they fired and about where the bullets went into my son’s body,” she said.
Robinson also wants to know why Anthony Chancelor, Republican candidate for sheriff of Clarke County, reportedly was the first on the scene of her son’s death. Although a member of the Mississippi Highway Patrol division in Meridian, he has never given an account for why he was the first on the scene and what his purpose was for being there.
Mrs. Robinson went to the funeral home before the body was prepared for burial and took many pictures of her son’s dead body. “I was heartbroken to find that the facts were far different from what the sheriff and the other officials had reported to the public. There has been no accountability in my son’s
death. I want this exposed and hopefully prevented from ever happening again to another person or family in this county. My son’s body was exhumed April 23, 2022, and a second autopsy was performed because the first one was incorrect,” she said.
WAS IT MURDER?
“My son was murdered on May 21, 2020, by a number of Clarke County, Mississippi, deputies. I was told he was shot once in the chest during a verbal confrontation,” Robinson reports.
That was the account given by Sheriff Todd Kemp, who announced his retirement last December after 24 years in office. It was a routine story frequently used by the police authorities in their alleged abuse of power in Clarke County. The names of four deputies were reported as being on the scene. But there was no mention of Chancelor, a former deputy who had begun working for the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Meridian. Yet, he was there, long before any of the others arrived on the scene. Chancelor is the winner of the Republican primary seeking to replace Kemp in the November 7 final election.
“My son was shot, according to their records, at 10:53 and was deceased by 10:55 the night of May 21,” the grieving mother said in an interview Tuesday.
“Mr. Chancelor arrived prior to the ambulance and was between 16 and 18 miles out of town, in the country. He worked for the Highway Patrol in Meridian.”
Robinson said she is very much opposed to the possibility of Chancelor becoming sheriff after the November 7 election. While there are two independent candidates – one Black, the other white – for the same office, Chancelor was backed by Kemp to be his successor. To point out the unfair advantage given a white candidate in a racially divided community, Robinson said she has heard some of the white residents of the county declare that “they would never vote for a Black man.”
At least two years before the death of Casey Dunigan, Kemp had brought him in in 2018 for not responding to a bench warrant issued against him, Robinson said.
Robinson explains: “They had picked him up on a bench warrant in 2018 for failure to appear,” she said. “But then they released him on November 7, 2018. And they never, ever came out here to arrest him again. He never went farther than a mile away from the house. He stayed around here all the time. The night he was killed, he had been here all day and these two young guys, some of his friends, came over to visit him.”
While cooking a late meal for her husband, Stanley, around 10 p.m. that night, she asked Casey if he wanted something to eat.
“He was sitting outside in the backyard,” she said. “And he reached in and grabbed a piece of ham and a slice of bread and said he’d be back inside in a few minutes. About 11 o’clock I got a phone call from my cousin’s widow and she asked if the sirens and ambulance had come by our house. And I said no. At about 11:45, two sheriff’s deputies knocked on my door and asked to speak to my husband. They said they were there to let me know that there had been gunfire and Casey didn’t make it.
“My husband said, ‘Are you saying he shot at y’all?” The deputy said uh-huh. Stanley said, ‘You’re a damned liar.’ We know that Casey would just run away if he was confronted by police. And the old single-shot shotgun he had couldn’t be fired except with a lot of effort. Anybody who knew him knew that he would have just dropped the gun and left it there and would have come back to get it. He would never have tried to use a dysfunctional single-barrel shotgun against all that police firepower.”
Robinson said Lt. Roger Moore of the Meridian Highway Patrol division came to her home the next morning along with the Sheriff.
“Lt. Moore told me, while standing in front of the sheriff, ‘Mrs. Robinson, your son has not shot at anyone.”
PROTECT THE DEPUTIES
Robinson said: “I confronted the sheriff on June 3 of 2020. I went to his office and told him he lied to me. You told me Casey was shot one time from the front, and I said he’s been shot five times from behind. He asked if I had an autopsy. I did not tell him that I had.”
At that meeting, Todd Kemp told Robinson that the reason nobody was charged or arrested in the slaying of her son was because “his duty as sheriff is to protect his deputies.”
“I thought the sheriff was to uphold the law and protect all the citizens,” Robinson relayed. She barred Kemp and his deputies from coming onto her property without a warrant or other court-issued papers after that meeting.
“I really want justice for this crime. I was told at the time that the deputies that were there were Daniel Moulds, Justin Rawson, Bradley McNeece, and Ryan Evans.
“In the report filed by MBI, there was no mention of Justin Rawson, however there was mention of Anthony Chancelor, who happened to be way out in the country on our family property and was there prior to the time that they notified the Meridian Highway Patrol Division at 11:18 that night,” Robinson said.
The court ordered the exhumation of the body for another autopsy.
During the 24 years of Kemp’s service as sheriff and deputy sheriff before that, a long string of unsolved murders, alleged police brutality cases, and inept investigations characterized this important law enforcement body in Clarke County.
The county’s approximately 15,000 population is 63 percent white, 34.7 percent African American, and 0.7 percent Hispanic, according to the 2020 Census. And it reportedly has experienced many incidents of racial disparities, especially in the area of law enforcement.
In Jan. 2021, the U.S. District Court heard the case “Tilman v. Clarke County” wherein the plaintiff claimed that “Sheriff Todd Kemp instructed his deputies to beat him once they caught him, and the deputies did so. The plaintiff in this case also claimed that the deputies “stomped, kicked, punched, kneed, and hit him repeatedly.” And that “they continued to beat him after he was restrained in handcuffs.”
The unsolved murders of Mildred and Georgia Price (1995), Willis Parker (1998), Michael Ruffin (2010), David Wayne Hales (2012), Otis Brown (1982), Bruce O’Bryant Dear (2016), and Deborah Herrington (1990) have all occurred on Kemp’s watch. He is set to retire at the end of 2023, leaving the job of solving these deadly crimes to his successor.
On June 30, 2023, Kemp and his deputies were engaged in the shooting death of another white male, an incident similar to the Jamison Casey Dunigan case in 2020.
The state news media reported that the sheriff and his deputies went to the scene after reports of shots being fired, and that shots were fired at the deputies when they arrived. Kemp said they returned fire, killing the armed suspect.
The end of this report, however, contradicts the earlier part that said the officers were called to the scene after receiving calls of shots fired. The end of the report says officers were attempting to serve the subject when an altercation ensued, leading to the subject receiving fatal injuries. MBI is investigating.