Antwun "Ronnie" Shumpert was killed in June 2016 in Tupelo.
In late 2017, U.S. Northern District of Mississippi Chief Judge Sharion Aycock granted summary judgment in the case.
The decision to award summary judgment resolved the case without a trial. Aycock wrote that no meaningful facts were in dispute and that the law was clear that the officer and the city could not be found liable for damages in the death of Shumpert. [that is b/c different standards of morality and law apply to cops in a police state]
Carlos Moore, an attorney representing the Shumpert family, then appealed Aycock’s decision to the Fifth Circuit.
In September, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Aycock's ruling. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court let the appeals court ruling stand - thereby killing the case.
Federal and state prosecutors ruled out criminal charges against officer Tyler Cook, despite claims by Shumpert's relatives that the shooting was unjustified. [QUESTION: In a credibility contest between a sworn white cop and a Black woman [the lone witness] would white prosecutors, judges, jurors, journalists and fellow officers believe the white cop’s self-serving testimony in a system of white supremacy?]
An attorney representing the white cop lauded the court's decision and emphasized the number of agencies that have investigated the original incident.
"After over two years of investigations and adjudications by the MBI, the District Attorney’s Office of the First Circuit Court District, a Lee County Grand Jury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi, the Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division, the FBI, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States of America, and a denial to further hear the case by the Supreme Court of the United States, we have a final and complete vindication for Officer Tyler Cook regarding the shooting of Antwun Ronnie Shumpert," said Jason Herring in a written statement. "Officer Tyler Cook thanks his friends, family and community for the outpouring of support during the last two and a half years, and for standing strong with him."
Officer Tyler Cook fatally shot Shumpert during a confrontation, and the civil suit followed a Lee County grand jury deciding there was nothing criminal in Cook's actions.
The lawsuit was filed by Peggy Shumpert and by Charles Foster, who was with Antwun Shumpert the night of the shooting, against the city, Mayor Jason Shelton, Police Chief Bart Aguirre and Officer Tyler Cook.
“No one deserves to die the way he did,” Tamicka Smith, his older sister, told ThinkProgress.
Shumpert’s lawsuit cites the “pre-death pain” he suffered “prior to expiring from the dog bites, body blows, and gunshot wounds.”
The dog attacked him, gashing a hole through his testicles and scratching him across his body. When the officer approached Shumpert, he shot him four times.
Shumpert died handcuffed in a hospital roughly five hours later. When his siblings saw him — Shumpert was the youngest of five children — he had a mutilated groin, boot marks on his head, a cut-open eye, and scratches across his entire body.
Smith, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, told ThinkProgress that she heard about her brother’s death from her older sister. His siblings, children, wife, and mother were first told they wouldn’t be able to see his mangled body. Eventually, they were allowed to identify him through a glass window.
It wasn’t until the next morning that they started piecing together information about the incident by speaking with his friend, who was in the passenger seat of the vehicle at the time.
Antwun "Ronnie" Shumpert and Charles Foster were driving to the store on the evening of June 18 to get Foster a T-shirt for a party they planned to attend that night.
During the drive, the two men saw the blue lights flashing behind them.
"He looked at me and said, 'I'm about to run,'" Foster said. "I'm like, 'Why?'"
Foster said Shumpert, who was driving, hadn't done anything wrong. Although the police suggest the vehicle had no tag light, Foster said all his lights were working properly. The tan Ford Focus is his, not Shumpert's, after all. ["suggest" ? is that what the 4th Amendment calls for? - white cops, prosecutors and media doing their thing here]
When Shumpert came to a stop, he exited the vehicle and ran up a grassy hill into blackness. The officer who pulled them over ran after Shumpert, hand on his firearm, Foster said. Officer Tyler Cook [racist suspect in photo], who was called for backup, intercepted the chase. His K9 led him to the back of a house on Harrison Street, where Shumpert was hiding inside a crawl space under the house, police say. This is where two stories diverge. Attorney Carlos Moore, hired by Shumpert's family, questions the details of the officer's account all the way down to the hiding place.
Smith said he may have run from the traffic stop because he knew the potential for police interactions to escalate.
“I think he ran out of fear,” she said. “I think he ran truly out of fear. That’s one thing he didn’t want to deal with is the police, because of the police brutality that goes on nowadays. He just wanted to stay clear of the police. His thing was, ‘I just want to get a job, work and take care of my family.’ That’s all he wanted to do.”
Cook told authorities that he found Shumpert hiding under the crawl space of a home, sent the dog under the house when Shumpert would not surrender, was subsequently attacked by Shumpert and subsequently shot Shumpert in self-defense. The department’s story involves Shumpert attacking the officer and leaving him with a bruised and bloody face.
"Officer Cook noticed a hand trying to hold the door shut" over the entrance to the crawl space, according to the city's timeline. Moore said it would be difficult for the 6-foot tall Shumpert to have crawled into such a space.
"Tupelo PD. Come out from under the house, and show me your hands. I have a dog, and he will bite," Cook says he said to Shumpert.
Shumpert did not "comply," the timeline claims.
Cook gave orders to the K9 to pursue Shumpert. Moore said he has a witness who will testify that the dog attacked Shumpert viciously, biting him in the groin. The city's account, based solely on Cook's statement, says that the K9 grabbed Shumpert by the arm. Shumpert then punched the dog in the head, causing it to release the arm.
Once free, Cook said Shumpert attacked him. Shumpert, described by Foster as his football team's lead tackler, knocked Cook down and began punching him in the face until the officer feared he would lose consciousness, Cook said in the report. This is when Cook said he shot Shumpert in self-defense.
Foster said he heard the gunshots, two at first, then a pause and two more, within a couple of minutes after his friend started running.
But Shumpert’s family, friends, and attorney have rejected that claim, maintaining both in the lawsuit and in interviews that the incident was brutal and horrific and that Shumpert did not instigate any violence.
Moore said Cook's injuries are not consistent with his story. "His face would have depicted that," Moore said, emphasizing Shumpert's size and strength. "His eyes should have been closed shut and black and blue."
In a series of interlocked arguments, Moore at times takes much of Cook’s account as fact. He argues that Cook’s decision to release the police dog Alec into the crawl space to bite Shumpert violated the city’s policies over use of K9s and barricade situations.
Specifically, Moore asserts that under TPD policies Cook should have waited for backup to establish a perimeter around the home before deploying the dog and that Cook should have notified a supervisor regarding use of Alec.
According to Moore, Shumpert was mauled by the officer's K9 and his face beaten to the point that his teeth came loose.
Photos of Shumpert's body after the autopsy show a large gaping wound in the groin and three large scratches across his back, injuries Moore claim are from a K9 attack. The photos also show Shumpert's bottom teeth dramatically bent back toward his throat, the result of a stomping to the face, Moore says.
Attorneys for the city respond that Moore has misrepresented the K9 policy and that the barricade policy was not applicable and, at any rate, is not relevant to whether Cook is liable for civil damages.
In his arguments against summary judgment, Moore also highlights that Cook was transferred to K9 operations with less than the years of patrol experience mandated by the department’s own policies. Moore thus charges the city with insufficient and negligent training of its officers.
The city by contrast argues that Police Chief Bart Aguirre waived some requirements for Cook in light of the officer’s relevant military experience and training.
As for evidence contesting Cook’s claims of a defensive shooting, Moore has proffered two exhibits, both of which attorneys for the city and Cook claim are inadmissible at trial.
A forensic pathologist retained by Moore asserted that, based upon the angle of the wound, Cook “most likely” fired one of four shots while on top of Shumpert rather than underneath him as the officer has testified.
Moore likewise has sought to introduce testimony by Shumpert’s brother-in-law, Titus Smith. Smith, who resides in Texas, reports that the day after the shooting he received an anonymous phone call asserting that Shumpert was shot while trying to surrender and then mutilated by the police dog.
Within recent filings, this report of an anonymous phone call is the most substantive evidence put forward by Moore to bolster his high-profile claims made last year. [MORE]
Mayor Jason Shelton said the photos were taken well after rigor mortis had set in are not indicative of the condition of Shumpert's body when he died. He also explains that other marks on his body could have occurred during surgery performed after the shooting.
The medical reports from North Mississippi Medical Center say physicians noted no marks on Shumpert's back, but Moore said those notes were made while physicians hectically tried to save Shumpert's life, and they were likely not thorough.
Moore said his forensic pathologist, Washington D.C.'s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell, finds that the photos indicate an altercation with another person and a K9, but that he would need the full autopsy report to be certain. [MORE]