By Angela Buckner
JA Delta Correspondent
Across the State of Mississippi, law enforcement agents have been on the radar for the past six months of this new year of 2023. The United States Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke made several stops in Mississippi expressing the importance of her leadership role in the Civil Rights division of the DOJ. She has a reputation for opening investigations against police departments. These investigations are said to attempt to cultivate transparency and accountability in order to increase public trust which should bring about an increase in public safety.
Various peaceful protests and rallies have garnered major media attention stemming from cases like Staff Sergeant Kelvin Franklin (allegedly tased while in handcuffs in Indianola), Michael Corey Jenkins (allegedly water boarded with milk for several hours and shot in the mouth while in police custody in Rankin County), and 11-year-old Aderrien Murry (allegedly shot in the chest by a veteran officer in Indianola).
During the rallies, participants told the Advocate that the majority of them all had one thing in common – as a community, they no longer have confidence in law enforcement practices in their respective communities around Mississippi.
During her stop in Indianola, Clarke acknowledged the officer-involved shooting leading to 11-year-old Aderrien Murry being shot by veteran officer Greg Capers, who serves under the leadership of Chief Ronald Sampson at the Indianola Police Department. Clarke stated, “Another priority for us is law enforcement accountability and I just want to very briefly acknowledge the recent horrific shooting of an 11-year-old here in Indianola by a police officer.” She further expressed her thoughts and prayers to Murry’s family.
Murry stated to various media outlets that while he was fighting for his life in his mother’s arms he was singing “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” He is now home on his personal road to recovery.
Clarke reminded all in attendance, “We charged, not just Derek Chauvin, the one directly responsible for the loss of George Floyd’s life, but also those three officers who stood around and watched and failed to intervene. Failed to render medical care and take action that might have spared his life. The Civil Rights division works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all persons in the U.S., particularly the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Her visit comes only a few days after Attorney Carlos Moore, who represents the Murry family, filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the City of Indianola, the Chief of Police Ronald Sampson, and Officer Greg Capers. Attorney Moore stated, “Chief Ronald Sampson allowed Greg Capers to run wild.” Greg Capers is allegedly considered to be the ‘best officer’ at the Indianola Police Department. Mayor Ken Featherstone openly admitted to the CNN media outlet that the City of Indianola does not have $5 million available.
According to Mississippi Delta/Leflore County resident who paid a visit to Indianola, Troy Brown commented, “I am elated that the Lord heard our prayers because the first thing that I thought was how was the young man doing and to see that he got shot center mass, I mean there was no denying that they were eye to eye, but they really couldn’t have been eye to eye because he is a kid. The way he described it he described it as a punch.” When asked if he could offer words of encouragement to Aderrien Murry, Brown encouraged the 11-year-old to, “Stay in school. Understand that the Lord has something special for you. Very, very few people survive what you have survived and to do it to such a young person, the Lord is preparing you for something much greater for you to miss death under such circumstances we witnessed a miracle.” Brown further expressed his prayers and well wishes to the mother, Nakala Murry.
Brown also reiterated that the citizens need answers to their questions and need to view the bodycam footage. This will ensure transparency and allow all the world to understand what was possibly happening in the mind of the officer at the time of the shooting. “I ask that we, as a community, need to find out what happened because this can’t happen again. It’s interesting how this kid can be mistaken for an adult. Clearly, he is a kid. I don’t wanna bring any disparities on the police officer himself because from what I understand he has been an outstanding police officer and people make mistakes, but we all have to be accountable for our actions and he is a public official and he has to be on his p’s and q’s at all times. As I heard him tell it, he [Murry] came out with his hands up. So was he under some kind of stress at the moment? Was he under the influence of some drugs at the moment? What was it that happened that caused him to mistake a child and I am saying child in every sense of the word, what happened? We are owed an explanation and I am looking forward to hearing from the chief of police [Sampson], the mayor [Featherstone], everybody is accountable to the public.”
The City of Indianola held a specially called board meeting to discuss the importance of excessive drag racing on Highway 82 at night throughout the business district of Indianola. Many citizens told the Advocate that they have tried to contact the chief, but they claimed he is not available. However, after the city’s mayor and Board of Aldermen came out of executive session, Mayor Featherstone said there was no vote on the release of the bodycam footage, as it relates to 11-year-old Aderrien Murry.
The Jackson Advocate has not be able to reach Chief Ronald Sampson for a comment.