19.7 C
New York
Saturday, May 25, 2024

New Proof Raises Questions in Mississippi Police Killing


When Damien Cameron’s physique arrived on the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Workplace in August 2021, it bore all of the indicators of a police brutality case.

Mr. Cameron’s face was bloody and swollen nearly past recognition from his wrestle with Rankin County sheriff’s deputies the week earlier than.

Indicators of inner bleeding within the neck of Mr. Cameron, a 29-year-old Black man, instructed a deputy might need pinned him to the bottom with a knee — a harmful restraint method condemned by the Justice Division and banned in lots of cities.

However when the state’s chief health worker, Dr. Staci Turner, accomplished her post-mortem, she dominated the reason for Mr. Cameron’s demise “undetermined.” A grand jury later declined to indict the deputies concerned.

Now, three famend pathologists, who examined Mr. Cameron’s post-mortem report on the request of The New York Instances and Mississippi As we speak, say his demise ought to have been dominated a murder.

After independently reviewing post-mortem images, sheriff’s experiences, hospital information, and eyewitness statements saying two deputies knelt on Mr. Cameron’s neck for 10 minutes or extra, the consultants concluded the deputies most certainly killed him.

His demise was “a murder, completely,” stated Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York Metropolis chief health worker who testified within the OJ Simpson trial and carried out an unbiased post-mortem of George Floyd. “This particular person died of asphyxia due to neck compression.”

“There’s actually nothing to be undetermined about,” stated Dr. Zhongxue Hua, chief of the forensic pathology division at Rutgers College.

The opinions of those forensic consultants give new ammunition to Mr. Cameron’s household, who’ve struggled to deliver consideration to his demise for greater than two years. Regardless of native media protection and two articles by the information website Insider, Mr. Cameron’s demise by no means surfaced nationally just like the instances of George Floyd or Eric Garner.

Mr. Cameron’s mom, Monica Lee, described her son as an outgoing younger man who might shortly flip strangers into mates along with his smile. Ms. Lee has at all times maintained that the deputies killed her son by violently subduing him and ignoring his cries that he couldn’t breathe. She predicted the investigation into his demise “was going to be a bunch of lies.”

Ms. Lee sued the division in 2022.

Her lawyer, Malik Shabazz, stated the conclusions of the unbiased pathologists might change the result of Ms. Lee’s case. “There’s severe questions in regards to the competency and the accuracy of the post-mortem findings,” he stated.

Mr. Cameron is one in every of at the least 9 males who’ve died throughout episodes involving Rankin deputies since 2014, in keeping with division information and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation experiences.

Rankin County, a rural, majority-white neighborhood exterior Jackson, has been rocked by nationwide controversy this yr after 5 sheriff’s deputies and a neighborhood police officer broke into the house of two Black males, tortured them for 2 hours, sexually assaulted them with a intercourse toy after which shot one in every of them within the mouth. All the officers have pleaded responsible to federal and state expenses.

On Aug. 3, Deputy Hunter Elward admitted to sticking his gun in 32-year-old Michael Jenkins’s mouth and firing it. He and the opposite officers, who’re all white, hid their crimes by planting a gun and medicines on their victims, disposing of safety digicam footage and falsifying sheriff’s experiences, in keeping with an investigation by the Justice Division.

“Clearly these officers can’t be trusted,” stated Sean Tindell, commissioner of the Mississippi Division of Public Security. “There’s most likely going to be a variety of opinions of each case that they’ve ever labored on.”

Mr. Elward was one of many two deputies accused of kneeling on Mr. Cameron the day he died.

The one witnesses to Mr. Cameron’s arrest on July 26, 2021, had been the deputies, Ms. Lee and her mother and father.

That afternoon, a neighbor referred to as the police to report a housebreaking he believed Mr. Cameron had dedicated at his residence in a quiet, rural neighborhood close to Braxton, Miss., court docket information present.

When Deputy Elward arrived to research, Mr. Cameron, who had been identified with bipolar dysfunction and schizophrenia, swung at him and ran away, in keeping with the sheriff’s report.

Deputy Elward fired his Taser and tackled Mr. Cameron, he claimed in his sheriff’s report, punching him thrice within the face earlier than Deputy Luke Stickman arrived to assist subdue and arrest the person.

Mr. Cameron continued to withstand the deputies as they led him exterior and shoved him in a patrol automobile, Deputy Elward contended in his report.

Shortly after, he discovered Mr. Cameron unresponsive. Paramedics took him to College of Mississippi Medical Heart, the place he was pronounced lifeless.

Mr. Cameron’s household stated they witnessed a drastically totally different encounter.

In interviews with reporters, Ms. Lee stated her son by no means tried to hit the deputy.

Hours after the incident, Mr. Cameron’s grandfather instructed Mississippi Bureau of Investigation brokers that he had witnessed a deputy inserting his knee on his grandson’s neck as he lay on the bottom. The deputies didn’t point out kneeling on Mr. Cameron of their experiences.

Ms. Lee instructed reporters that Deputies Elward and Stickman knelt on Mr. Cameron’s neck and again for at the least 10 minutes.

“He was telling me he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe,” she stated.

Mr. Cameron’s mom instructed reporters that he struggled to stroll because the deputies took him to the patrol automobile and that he fell facedown within the mud in entrance of it

There isn’t any video footage of the incident.

In a written assertion, Sheriff Bryan Bailey stated the division had but to deploy body-worn cameras when Mr. Cameron was arrested. Mississippi doesn’t require legislation enforcement companies to make use of them.

With out footage to show her claims, Ms. Lee hoped her son’s post-mortem would lastly reveal the reality about his demise.

However after the health worker’s report got here again “undetermined,” a grand jury declined to cost the deputies.

“It was heartbreaking,” Ms. Lee stated. “That is what you do day by day, and you might not decide his reason for demise? Why?”

District Legal professional John Bramlett, generally known as Bubba, who offered the case to the grand jury, didn’t return calls in search of remark in regards to the case.

Health workers’ findings function the authorized basis for prosecutors to file expenses in opposition to officers concerned in deadly incidents, authorized consultants stated.

“The one particular person in a murder case who can testify to the final word problem — that the way of demise was murder — is a health worker,” stated Aramis Ayala, a former Florida state lawyer and a professor at Florida A&M College College of Legislation.

Prosecutors not often pursue murder expenses in opposition to cops. With out an official reason for demise, consultants stated the probabilities of persuading a grand jury to indict an officer had been slim.

Dr. Turner declined to debate the small print of Mr. Cameron’s post-mortem, however stated there was nothing uncommon about her determination to not cite a reason for demise.

In instances the place her workplace is lacking info or can’t definitively cite a trigger, “we err on the facet of ‘undetermined’ as a result of we don’t wish to make a mistake,” she stated.

Dr. Turner wouldn’t touch upon what police paperwork and witness statements she had entry to when she carried out the post-mortem. However in her report she wrote, “On account of lack of entry to info involving the circumstance of this demise, the trigger and method of demise are greatest categorized as undetermined.”

All three unbiased forensic pathologists stated the health worker ought to have tracked down the knowledge she wanted to make a dedication. The hemorrhaging in Mr. Cameron’s neck made it clear he died of asphyxiation, they stated.

“They need to not have signed it on as undetermined and let it go,” stated Dr. Cyril Wecht, former president of the American School of Authorized Medication and the American Academy of Forensic Science. “That was as much as them to get extra info from the cops.”

A toxicology report discovered methamphetamine in Mr. Cameron’s blood, however the pathologists agreed that the drug didn’t trigger his demise.

Representatives of the health worker’s workplace stated the company would evaluate the case once more if requested by the Mississippi lawyer basic or the native district lawyer’s workplace.

“It was undetermined,” stated Mr. Tindell, the general public security division commissioner. “That doesn’t imply it might probably’t be decided later.”

A consultant of the lawyer basic’s workplace referred reporters to District Legal professional Bramlett, who didn’t reply to requests for remark.

In a written response to The Instances, Sheriff Bailey stated his division cooperated with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry, noting that the bureau discovered no wrongdoing.

“If requested, we are going to totally cooperate with any future investigation into this incident by any investigative company,” Sheriff Bailey wrote.

Mr. Shabazz stated he deliberate to seek the advice of with the pathologists and replace Ms. Lee’s lawsuit to incorporate their findings. He hopes the brand new info will immediate state officers to evaluate the case once more.

Ms. Lee stated she simply needed the world to know the reality.

“That is what they did to my little one,” she stated. “You possibly can’t inform me it was undetermined.”

Nate Rosenfield and Brian Howey are reporters for the Mississippi Heart for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi As we speak, a non-profit newsroom overlaying the state.


Related Articles

Latest Articles

Blogarama - Blog Directory 먹튀검증