Unholstered: A Greenwood Family Fights For Its Rights

Photos by Ronni Mott

The bell rang for fifth period at Greenwood High School, and James Marshall walked to class. The 17-year-old wore his throwback Dave Wilcox jersey that his mom had bought him, a bright red 49ers uniform from 1964 with three-quarter sleeves that reached below his wrists. On the way, he spotted his friend Jarvis Williams, who was telling a group of boys about his tattoo.

"James, come over here and show us your tattoo," Williams shouted across the hallway.

Marshall headed toward the group, and lifted the loose sleeve on his left arm up to his elbow, bunching the number four—one half of Wilcox's 64—around his shoulder. In looping cursive letters stacked like a totem pole, the word "James" curved along his inner arm and stopped three-quarters of the way down, the spot where Wilcox's sleeves would have rested on the linebacker's body.

Marshall had never played football, though it was his childhood dream, because of chronic asthma and a weak chest. In eighth grade, a baseball to the sternum ended his brief encounter with sports. He had played baseball for three years, and after the injury his mother wouldn't allow anything else. With his sleeve up, his inked arm looked slighter and more delicate than a football player's. At 5'9" and 170 lbs., he could have played tailback or wide receiver, but not many other positions. He didn't clench his hand into a fist but tucked his fingers back against his palm as he showed the other boys his tattoo.

He had no idea what would happen next.

'Assaulting the Police'
Casey Wiggins, a 26-year-old white police officer of stocky build and slightly above-average height—about 5'11", judging by video footage—was patrolling the hallways of the now-majority African American high school by himself on Dec. 6 when he saw Marshall and his friends. Wiggins had not completed police academy training, and was required to be under supervision by a fellow officer at all times, but today he was alone. As he approached the group of three boys, all black, he thought he saw Marshall try to hide something in his left hand.

A teacher making plans on a desk calendar inside the teacher's lounge heard a thud outside the door. He walked over and opened it to see what had happened. As soon as he did, Wiggins stumbled backward into the lounge, grabbing at Marshall's jersey and bringing him down with him, as captured by a security camera in the teacher's lounge.

Stunned by the fall, Marshall tried to steady himself and stand up. He held his hands limp and to his side. Wiggins, balancing himself with one arm on the ground, unholstered and then aimed his gun at Marshall's face. Wiggins would later report that he reached for his firearm because Marshall was grabbing him. Upon seeing Wiggins' gun, Marshall put his hands up and backed out of the lounge. Students who had gathered at the doorway cowered away at point-blank range.

Re-holstering his weapon, Wiggins led Marshall from behind down the crowded hallway, causing one girl to scream and run away. Stopping in front of a security camera, Wiggins slammed Marshall's head against the wall. Scanning the crowd of students around him, he held Marshall's head in place with his left hand as he unholstered his pistol for a second time. Once he retrieved his gun, he placed it in the coup de grâce position at the base of Marshall's neck.

Wiggins then pulled Marshall away from the wall, and wrapped his arm around his neck in a chokehold. Marshall, lethargic and unresisting, fell limp as Wiggins choked him. Wiggins would later report that Marshall was resisting "the entire time." A girl pleaded for Wiggins to stop before a school official escorted her away. After Wiggins let go of the chokehold, Marshall—now out of sight of the security camera—dropped down to his knees because his head had begun to hurt. Wiggins placed his knee on top of Marshall's head and told him he wished nobody else was around, so that he could "whoop (his) little ass," Marshall reported later.

Wiggins refused to let Marshall speak with Greenwood High School principal Percy Powell. Instead, he took him outside, where by Marshall's count at least seven police cars were waiting, arrested him, spread his legs and searched him.

His mother, who had received a phone call from another student that a police officer had pulled a gun on her child, arrived in Marshall's father's Silverado truck. She couldn't believe what had happened. Usually bound to the house by heart problems, diabetes, asthma and arthritis, Jacqueline Blackshire had traveled the one and a half blocks in a state of emergency.

When she saw Marshall handcuffed with his legs spread near a squad car, she jumped out of the truck and ran toward her child.

"Why are you messing with my son's leg?" she asked an officer.

"We're searching him," he replied.

The officer then showed her what they had found on Marshall: four quarters and a cigarette lighter.

"Mama, the police pulled a gun on me," Marshall said.

"What police pulled a gun on you?" Blackshire said.

The officers wouldn't let Marshall answer.

"What do y'all got him handcuffed for?" Blackshire asked them.

"Assaulting the police," one of them said.

As Marshall stepped into the back of a squad car, he saw his classmates outside staring at the scene.

"The whole school (was there)," Marshall said. "Everybody was hollering, people running. It was two days before my birthday."

'A Very Scary Situation'
Many people who saw the security video on the news believed that Marshall, whose twice-his-size jersey enveloped Wiggins in a flash of red, had thrown the officer to the floor. News reports did little to diminish this perception, referring to the incident as a "scuffle" or "altercation" without providing context or explaining that, upon close inspection of the video, it is clear that Marshall does not "scuffle" with Wiggins.

Upon learning Marshall's version of what had happened in the hallway, which she had never heard in the media, Children's Defense Fund regional director Oleta Fitzgerald said, "It wasn't portrayed that way."

Marshall tells the story like this: Wiggins grabbed Marshall and another boy in the group from behind and threw them against the door to the teacher's lounge.

In his incident report, Wiggins says it was the other way around: that the shorter and scrawnier Marshall threw him against the door behind him, which was cracked open. In fact, the door was shut closed. Only when the teacher inside opened the door to investigate a noise in the hallway did the door open and Wiggins and Marshall stumble through.

For Wiggins' version to corroborate, a miracle had to have happened: At the exact moment that Wiggins' body struck the door to the teacher's lounge, the teacher had to have opened it. Instead, Marshall says that Wiggins grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off the door toward his body. As he drew him closer, Wiggins, with his back to the door, kicked at Marshall's ankles to bring his feet out from under him. When the door opened, the officer's weight was balanced against the door, and he fell through, bringing the student with him.

Because Greenwood High School has not released video footage from the other side of the door—a hearing is set for Feb. 16 to determine whether footage from all 12 security cameras is public record; the Jackson Free Press has requested all the videos—it is impossible to know whether Wiggins or Marshall's version of the beginning of the incident is correct. In this type of case, at least in front of the judge, the police officer's version usually carries more weight. However, the events in the teacher's lounge and further down the hallway played out clearly and—most significantly—on camera.

"It didn't seem to me like the officer had a problem where he had to use a gun," Fitzgerald said. "What I saw was a very scary situation. An officer with a gun drawn, with all those students standing around—it was a godsend that no one got hurt."

Three corroborating witness accounts obtained by the Jackson Free Press indicate that on Sep. 16, 2006, Wiggins may have assaulted another unarmed black 17 year-old while arresting him for theft, without probable, cause at the Pizza Inn. Various accounts alleged that Wiggins shoved the student into the restaurant's door and threatened to kill him. These reports mirror Marshall's claim that when Wiggins had his gun pointed at him, the officer said, "I'm going to kill you." Witness accounts from Sep. 16 also alleged that Wiggins arrested and assaulted, by slamming a car door on her foot, the mother of another student, after she maintained that the students had paid for their food. For fear of reprisal, these witnesses wish to remain unnamed.

The Boy Next Door
On Dec. 6, the day of Marshall's arrest, Reginald Dean was the shift supervisor at the Greenwood Police Department. An African American veteran on the force for over 20 years, Dean had risen to the rank of captain. He lived in an economically modest neighborhood near the high school, halfway between Interstate 82 and the railroad tracks, where several of his neighbors held grudges against him for helping to arrest their children. He knew of but had never worked with Wiggins, who had served on the Greenwood Police Department for roughly six months as an uncertified police officer. Like other neighbors' boys he had seen arrested over the years, he knew Marshall because he lived near him—in this case, right next door. This coincidence, Dean believes, would eventually lead to his suspension from the force.

Dean says he saw Wiggins "push" Marshall into the report room along with four or five other police officers to file an incident report. He said that he suggested to Wiggins that he separate from Marshall and fill out his paperwork in the lounge, because he had heard shouting emerge from the report room. He does not know who said what to whom. Later, he retreated to his office.

Shortly afterward, Marshall's mother arrived. Too angry to contain herself, Blackshire remembers walking up to the group of officers and asking, "Which one of you damn police pulled a gun on my son?'"

She remembers Wiggins, whom Blackshire did not yet know was the officer who had pulled his gun twice on Marshall, approaching her and saying, "If you don't get out of here, interfering with the police investigation, I'm going to lock you up.'"

"He was yelling at me," Blackshire said. "He was talking smart to me. And I said, 'No, who was the police officer who pulled the gun on my child?' He really was yelling at me, telling me, 'If you don't stop getting out of hand,' this and that."

Like her son had done earlier, Blackshire backed away from Wiggins into a hallway, where she sat as the officers questioned Marshall.

After Blackshire waited outside for half an hour, Sgt. Archie—the Greenwood Police Department refused to provide "any kind of information" surrounding the Marshall case, including Archie's first name, to the Jackson Free Press—told Blackshire that he wished to speak with her, Marshall and Marshall's father, James Blackshire, across the street at the detective's department. After reviewing video footage from Greenwood High School, she said that Archie told her that her son would not be charged with assaulting an officer.

"He said, 'Mrs. Blackshire, I reviewed the tape, and it did not show that James did anything wrong. He did not put his hands on the police man.' He said, 'James, I reviewed the tape and (Wiggins) pulled a gun on you twice—once, twice.' So I said, 'Why are they trying to charge him with assault?' So he said, 'I don't know, but he's not going to be charged with assault.'"

When Dean emerged from his office, he saw Archie bringing Marshall back to the police station from the detective's department across the street.

"What do you want to do with James Marshall?" Dean said Archie asked him once he had brought him back to the patrol division.

After consulting with Archie, Dean decided to follow standard procedure in releasing Marshall, a minor, to his parents pending further charges. "Take your child home," he told Blackshire. "(Marshall) hasn't assaulted anybody. If anything comes up, we'll let you know."

'Like An Animal'
The next day, Dec. 7, Marshall and his mother signed a criminal affidavit against Wiggins for assault and battery. On Jan. 15, Grenada attorney Carlos Moore filed a $1 million civil suit on Marshall's behalf against Wiggins, Police Chief Henry Harris, Mayor Sheriel Perkins and the City of Greenwood, in addition to a federal criminal complaint through the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging assault and battery, wrongful imprisonment and negligence. Three days later, he raised the amount of the suit to $2 million, adding the Greenwood Public School District, Superintendent Leslie Daniels and Principal Powell as defendants.

"The Defendants were grossly negligent and/or wanton in failing to monitor the actions of Officer Wiggins and/or Chief Harris. They further negligently and/or wantonly failed to train Officer Wiggins to properly protect, interrogate, detain, accost, or arrest the Plaintiff and other similarly situated minors or students," Moore stated in the lawsuit.

Mitchel Creel, Casey Wiggins' attorney with offices in Greenville and Hattiesburg, responded: "It's frustrating as a lawyer to see this. It gives me a pretty good idea of why courts are backed up like this when cases like this are allowed to go to trial." Creel said that Wiggins is unavailable to comment on the allegations at this time.

Harris reassigned Wiggins from Greenwood High School but kept him on the police payroll. Harris has refused to comment on any aspect of the case, as has City Attorney James Littleton and school attorney Richard Oakes.

Wiggins will face a probable-cause hearing in March. Creel said he felt confident in the Greenwood Police Department's ability to internally regulate its officers and insists his client did "nothing wrong."

Marshall's attorney, though, says the failure to punish Wiggins was racially motivated. "If a black officer had done that to a white child, I'm 99 percent sure that officer would be dismissed from the force that day. But (in this case), you have a white officer doing it to a black child," he said.

"He didn't have to treat my child like an animal," Blackshire said. "I feel like that was wrong. And I feel like no one wanted to do anything about it. 'Cause he's a black kid, and the officer is white. He's still working. He don't need to be up there; he might do another child the same way."

On Jan. 29, nearly two months after Marshall's arrest, Chief Harris suspended Dean for five days for "assisting an offender." Harris told Dean that a felony charge had been in place against Marshall for assaulting an officer, yet Dean said Archie did not notify him of any felony charges on Dec. 6.

"I got suspended for five days, and Wiggins is still on the job and being paid," Dean said in a telephone interview from his house, next door to Marshall's, while serving his suspension. "I think Chief Harris feels like I'm trying to help (Marshall). I don't have any dealings with that boy."

"You can only lock a kid up for two reasons: if he's a danger to public safety or will not show up to court. (Marshall) did not meet either criterion. To release him is not unusual," said Ellen Reddy, director of the Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse, based in Jackson.

"Officer Wiggins, Chief (Harris), and even the child—they all have due process rights. Those processes should be in place. Those are rights that should be afforded through the school board and police department," Reddy added.

Chief Harris has not confirmed whether felony charges for assaulting an officer ever existed against Marshall, and will not comment on his suspension of Dean. In a further twist, the Greenwood Commonwealth, a daily newspaper there, reported on Feb. 2 that an arrest docket in the Greenwood Police Department contained white correction fluid over the Dec. 6 entry for James Marshall, except for the letters "JUV," presumably an abbreviation for "juvenile." The paper reported that his name and birthdate—12/8/88—are visible through the correction fluid.

The article fueled suspicions of Dean's involvement with Marshall, and of an attempt to fabricate such an involvement. The newspaper stated: "Capt. Reginald Dean, who has been suspended for five days for releasing Marshall to his parents after the incident, denied any involvement with the whiting out of the entry in the docket."

Creel, Wiggins' attorney, has said he plans to refer to the whited-out arrest docket at Wiggins' probable cause hearing.

Several readers posted inflammatory responses on the Web site under the story. In one post, "Long Gone" wrote: "The sad thing is, there are many good people living there of all races. It's just that the bad seem to be black and taking over."

"Informed Citizen" criticized Dean personally, saying: "Captain Dean is a poor excuse for an officer, and has disgraced the department, and Officer Wiggins. Captain Dean should be put out on the street, and save us that taxpayers money. (sic)"

In another, "Keep the faith, officer" wrote that Dean "better get him a lawyer now. They are getting ready to try to hang you."

"Give Marshall 2 million (lashes that is)," wrote "J.D."

Commonwealth editor/publisher Tim Kalich said he saw no reason to delete any of the comments. "I review all the Web comments personally myself, and for the most part I let people say what they want to say as long as it's not slanderous, libelous or in bad taste," editor/publisher Tim Kalich said.

"Joanne" of Carrollton wrote: "I still say anyone can go to Greenwood and break the law and if you are black, you got it made. If you are white you can be 'whited-out.' Ha, ha, ha."

In addition to the harassment in print, Marshall said his mother received several hateful phone calls at her house. One caller called her a "rich bitch" before hanging up.

"It makes me real mad. I've tried to ignore it," Blackshire said.

"It's just a sad situation. Folks are saying he's just after money, but we didn't ask to be put in this situation. He didn't ask to be treated like he was. It was a very serious offense," attorney Moore said.

Creel says the case is "silly." "Every time I wake up, I hear more baloney. Every time I turn around, someone else comes up with some wild theory," he told the Jackson Free Press.

"Someone's just trying to make a little money, that's all," he said.

Get Rich Quick?
The two prevailing opinions of Marshall are that he is a criminal who was acting up and deserved punishment and that he is using his arrest as a ploy to get rich quick. The first charge was magnified when media sources brought up Marshall's "pending" robbery charges. The Commonwealth ran an article on Jan. 14 with the headline, "Marshall still facing charge in robbery arrest."

The charges stemmed from a June 2006 incident, in which Marshall was accused of stealing a classmate's $80 necklace. According to Moore and Marshall, a grand jury cleared Marshall of all charges. District Attorney Joyce Chiles, whom the Commonwealth quoted saying that charges still exist, did not return phone calls for comment.

Nsombi Lambright, executive director of ACLU Mississippi, said that the over-incarceration of black males "leads to the perception of when you see young black men, you automatically think they're going to be involved in crime." One study by the U.S. Department of Justice determined that, if trends continue, one in three black males born in 2001 will be incarcerated at some point in their lives.

Several bloggers on the Commonwealth Web site suggested that Marshall's demand for justice—and compensation—reflects black privilege in Greenwood, a majority black city that has recently elected its first black mayor and police chief, and a city in which whites fought viciously against civil-rights reforms in the 1960s (the county cut off food commodities at one point for poor blacks trying to register to vote).

Whites opposing "race-mixing" then often used the excuse that blacks are more prone to violence. That rhetoric is still around.

"Is all the publicity about this one incident because we have a black mayor and black police chief?" asked Greenwood resident Lenny Strong in a letter to the editor published in print editions of the Commonwealth. Then, in nearly the same breath, he wondered aloud "what the latest statistics on shootings, stabbings, and other crimes in Greenwood are and what population holds the highest rating."

Frank Brown, professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, does not dispute that crime statistics are disproportionately high among blacks. But he argues that this is a reflection of societal powerlessness, not racial inferiority, and certainly does not indicate any type of racial privilege.

"Even in places where the black population is 5 or 6 percent, they're almost half of the jail population," Brown said. "That has racial and ethnic connotations. Who has the most advantages in society? (Blacks) have the fewest advantages, and the fewest opportunities to reap the rewards of a wealthy country, across the board."

In his report, "The Color of Discipline: Sources of Racial and Gender Disproportionality in School Punishment," Indiana University professor Russ Skiba found that these racial disadvantages—not inferiorities—existed within the system of school punishment.

"Despite the ubiquity of findings concerning the relationship between race and behavior-related consequences, investigations of behavior, race and discipline have yet to provide evidence that African American students misbehave at a significantly higher rate," Skiba wrote. "Whether based on school records or student interviews, studies have failed to find racial disparities in misbehavior sufficient to account for the typically wide racial differences in school punishment. If anything, African American students appear to receive more severe school punishments for less severe behavior."

Skiba writes that fear may also contribute to overreactions in punishing black male students. Wiggins' note on his incident report that Marshall became "very hostile" may conform to this model. "Teachers who are prone to accepting stereotypes of adolescent African American males as threatening or dangerous may overreact to relatively minor threats to authority, especially if their anxiety is paired with a misunderstanding of cultural norms of social interaction."

A 'Bad Kid' or a 'Bad Cop'?
Greenwood resident Kelly Kornogay expressed concern about the issue of safety in schools, across racial lines and beyond the case of Wiggins and Marshall. She wondered whether Marshall would prove to be a "bad kid," as news reports have indicated, whether Wiggins really was a "bad cop" and whether it even matters in the end.

"I think the city should use this as a chance to re-evaluate the whole situation of allowing anyone with a gun in school," she said.

The fact that an inexperienced police officer pulled his gun so quickly and easily—twice—on an unarmed teen in a crowded school is, of course, the worrisome elephant in the room.

Ellen Reddy said she objects to weapons inside schools, regardless of who carries them. "We wouldn't even consider giving officers guns in our schools (in Hinds County)—Mace is bad enough," she said.

"When we say 'safe schools,' schools have to be safe for everybody. The situation (with Wiggins) could have gotten a lot more volatile than it did. That was just a scary situation. School boards have to consider the implications of having police officers in schools."

Lambright, of the ACLU, recommended that school districts adopt scientifically based behavior modification programs that look at addressing disciplinary issues in non-punitive ways that don't criminalize students.

If police officers are included in these programs, they must be adequately trained and regulated, she said. "Are they really there to protect, or are they simply increasing the incarceration rates of children?" she asked. "It becomes so easy, when there's a school-related incident, like a fight, a disciplinary issue, if an officer just happens to be there to intervene, it may lead to assault charges, it may lead to resisting arrest, it may lead to disorderly conduct."

A major problem in Mississippi may be the lax oversight, to date, of police officers in schools, especially those not trained well enough to handle the situations they are likely to confront—like a group of kids in a hallway with one of them holding something unknown in his hand.

Robert Davis, the director of Law Enforcement Standards and Training for the Department of Public Safety, told the Greenwood Commonwealth that Wiggins should not have been patrolling that school alone; he should have been under the direct supervision of a certified police officer, he said.

Even then, though, the mere presence of the officer in the school may be overkill. Many juvenile-justice experts warn that having police officers in school, period, may create more problems than they solve.

In the Justice Policy Institute's report, "School House Hype: School Shootings and the Real Risks Kids Face in America," the authors warn that hype over school violence may be causing the wrong kind of response, specifically singling out the trend toward putting armed police officers in schools since the highly publicized school shootings of the 1990s

"Yet data compiled in this report have shown that more than 99 percent of juvenile homicides are committed outside of schools. The vast majority of youth homicide victims are killed by adults," the authors write. They add that it is difficult to understand how "adding more law enforcement officers to schools is a priority except as a response to generally shared misconceptions about homicides in schools."

The ACLU's Lambright directly blames the presence of that police officer for the situation that followed. "What happened to James Marshall wouldn't have happened if an officer was not at Greenwood High School," she wrote in a statement she released about the incident.

'I Wanted to Faint'
On Jan. 23, Marshall met with the Jackson Free Press for an exclusive interview in the Greenwood Leflore Hospital lobby. He was there because his long-time girlfriend, Nadia Gilmore, had just given birth to their 6 lb.-4 oz. baby boy, Kyron. The soft-spoken new father, whose loose clothing belies a diminutive build, remained by Gilmore's side for the entire birth.

"I wanted to faint," he said, his sharp jaw breaking into a broad smile. "It was terrible. It felt like she wanted to crush my hand."

Throughout the interview, Marshall appeared nervous, frazzled, as he told the story of what happened to him on Dec. 6. "I can't even concentrate for talking to people about the situation. And it could have gotten my friends killed, let alone myself," he said.

He brightened up when talking about sports, though, and said that he had met Gilmore on the sidelines of a Greenwood High School football game in 2003.

"She's been kind of stressed out, with the baby and what's going on," Marshall said of Gilmore. "I've just tried to keep her focused."

When asked about his childhood, Marshall said that he had everything he always wanted. "But I always wanted to play football. I just couldn't," he added.

Instead, he turned to cooking. The aspiring chef has already completed a two-year trade certification in culinary arts at the Greenwood High Vocational Technology Center, and plans to earn a degree in culinary arts at the Mississippi University for Women.

One day he hopes to open up a soul-food restaurant in Greenwood that would serve "everything," including his favorite dish, pot-boiled shrimp.

"He was a respectable young guy, came to class every day," Emma Dunlap, his culinary arts teacher, said later.

Two weeks after Kyron's birth, at a follow-up interview, Marshall appeared less weary and in good spirits. He said that the attention had died down in school. Now, he was able to focus on other things, like his new baby.

"It feels alright to be a father," he said. With four nieces and three nephews, he was used to looking after kids.

When asked how he was dealing with allegations that he was just trying to make money with his lawsuit, Marshall said: "I've just been trying to keep my composure. It's hard, but I'm just trying to maintain.

"I got a son to look after now."

Previous Comments

ID
80849
Comment

Bump. This is incredible--and depressing. I have to believe that the video would have been released by now if it corroborated the officer's story; the fact that it is being held back tells me that something is up. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-02-14T20:45:20-06:00
ID
80850
Comment

Thanks for the comment, Tom. We've delivered a public records request to Richard Oakes, the lawyer representing the Greenwood Public School District, for any and all video surveillance footage from that day. According to Carlos Moore, James Marshall's lawyer, there are "at least 12 security surveillance cameras at Greenwood High School." Only footage from two cameras has surfaced. It will be interesting to see what the cameras captured on the other side of that door.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-02-15T16:44:48-06:00
ID
80851
Comment

Tom - I completely agree with you! I've always heard that the camera 'tells no lies' and realistically, if the tape could/did show evidence to back up the officer's 'story' of the real happenings it would have been in the best interest of the police dept. to release it to the public. NO dept. wants any unwanted negative publicity ESPECIALLY when they have evidence to prove no wrong doings on one of their own's part. Clearly this is easily decided in the 'public court' and hopefully so within the realms of our justice sytem. I am the mother of a teenage boy, and am white - what I see happening here is a continuation of the repression of African-Americans within this town who are viewed as being the minority and in the MAJORITY for all crimes, or even 'would-be' crimes. The school AND the police dept. are undoubtedly at fault, if for no other reason than allowing an uncertified, untrained rookie to work in an educational setting. There is no question to the liability on that claim as being factual. It appears to me that heads will soon be rolling........principal's, police chief's, and the rookie officer. If NOT - the city should DEMAND their resignations. Actions such as this should never be tolerated. Our teen's are witness to many degregations on a daily basis, they should not be forced to endure this type of behavior in their educational setting as well.

Author
Katie D
Date
2007-02-18T19:14:23-06:00
ID
80852
Comment

Here's an AP report saying the judge ruled Friday that additional tapes wouldn't be released for public view.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-18T20:07:38-06:00
ID
80853
Comment

The student's attorney, Carlos Moore, released this press statement, verbatim: COURT REFUSES TO SANCTION GRENADA ATTORNEY February 16, 2007: Grenada, MS - Today, Leflore County Chancery Court Judge Jon Barnwell refused to sanction Grenada attorney Carlos E. Moore as requested by the City Attorney for Greenwood, James Littleton. Moore says he knew he would be vindicated and is pleased with the judge’s decision. Judge Barnwell also ruled on several other pending motions today in a hearing held in his chambers. He delayed ruling on whether all the security tapes Moore and the Jackson Free Press have requested are indeed public record. No definitive date has been selected for the trial to decide the public records issue but Moore expects it to be in late March or early April. Moore says it is just a matter of time, but he will get all the tapes. Finally, Judge Barnwell deferred to the federal court hearing the $2 Million dollar lawsuit against Officer Casey Wiggins, the City of Greenwood, and the Greenwood School District as to whether the city has to provide Moore with Wiggins personnel file as Moore has requested. No federal court hearings have been scheduled as of yet, said Moore.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-19T09:40:02-06:00
ID
80854
Comment

Here's what the Greenwood Commonwealth said today about the public-records ruling. Don't feel bad if you have no idea what the story is saying; we don't, either. Both Matt and I are out of town, but we're going to sort this mess out asap and try to translate for y'all in this week's paper. Why do I have a feeling I'm going to be crossing the Greenwood city limits before this damn week is out? A request for additional school security video footage showing a Dec. 6 incident at Greenwood High School was denied Friday by Leflore County Chancery Judge Jon Barnwell. The request was made by Grenada attorney Carlos Moore, who is representing GHS senior James Marshall. Marshall has filed a $2 million lawsuit in federal court over the Dec. 6 incident, where Greenwood Police Officer Casey Wiggins twice pulled a gun on Marshall. The federal names Wiggins, Police Chief Henry Harris; Mayor Sheriel Perkins; the city of Greenwood; Dr. Les Daniels, superintendent of the Greenwood School District; and the school district as defendants. [...] The hearing, held in Barnwell's chambers, was also attended by Richard Oakes, the school district's attorney, and Greenwood City Attorney James Littleton. Moore had also filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Wiggins barring him from any contact with Marshall. But Barnwell said that motion had nothing to do with the public records request. "The Greenwood Public Schools, the Commonwealth, the Jackson Free Press, none of them have any interest whatsoever in whether you have a problem with Wiggins," Barnwell said. The judge said Moore would have to file a separate action on the restraining order. "I need to know why, what causes your client to say he might try to do this again," Barnwell said. Barnwell turned down requests from both sides for a declaratory judgement in the public records case. [...] Littleton said the city has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of public records requests from Moore in the high school case. "All discovery dealing with federal court is deferred to federal court," Barnwell said. When Littleton asked Barnwell what should be done if additional public records requests or subpoenas are issued against the city, Barnwell replied, "You can do whatever you want to. You can ignore them." Ignore them? Nice. Let's just put it this way. Police officers stop pulling guns on unarmed students in hallways, and we'll stop "overwhelming" them with requests for the videotapes of the incidents. Meantime, these are public schools. And public safety is a primary issue here. Cough up the tapes, ladies and gentlemen, now rather than later. It's not like we're going to lose interest. I promise.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-19T21:31:52-06:00
ID
80855
Comment

Putting a 'green-horn' with a gun in a school is the real problem here. I don't care what went down! Having a uncertified police cadet alone in a school is a 'bomb' waiting to be ignited. Whom-ever put him there unsupervised is the real culprit. The police, the school and the public have all played a part in this incident! Could it be that the people in-charge really don't care?

Author
Altered Boy
Date
2007-02-21T10:35:24-06:00
ID
80856
Comment

there are no such thing as bad soldiers, just bad leaders

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T11:16:21-06:00
ID
80857
Comment

All, here is the text of an e-mail from someone who was suspended from the Web site a while back and writes me from time to time to tell me how much I/we suck. He's not happy about the James Marshall story: Ms. Ladd, You have really crossed the line. You are now taking the side of a kid with a criminal record. The kid now has a baby which means he hasn't been making good decisions so what make you think he is in the right now. The attorney in the case is just looking for a payday and the kid along with his mother is trying to get rich quick. You have told me on your board that your paper is concerned about Jackson issues. You are now sticking your nose where it doesn't belong so don't be surprised when you see some adverse reactions. It's not going to be the same once you get out of your sheltered little Fonderen world. You should be totally ashamed to back this kid a make him out to be some kind of victim. If you would let people have an opposing view on your message board I'd tell you the same on there. However, your board is an echo chamber where you ban people with an opposing view at the first sign of dissent. A lot of people don't even know about your paper and most of those who do despise it. You don't report the news. No, all you do is print opinion columns.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T13:15:15-06:00
ID
80858
Comment

There's more than a few conservatives on this board. This person doesn't know what they're talking about. Clearly if this guy has a record and a child out of wedlock, he's making some bad decisions for himself. But, that has nothing to do with this case. I haven't seen evidence of who was in the wrong either way.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-21T13:43:12-06:00
ID
80859
Comment

The letter writing guy isn't right-bright. If the boy didn't allegedly have a child out of wedlock or an alleged criminal record the letter writer would have looked for some other excuses to assail, assault or demean the boy who appears to be totally innocent of any wrongdoings. My biggest beef with police officers in general, especially young gung-ho ones, are their eagerness to pull the gun, throw on the handcuffs, and to deceitfully claim "resisting arrest" and "assault on a police officer." They think these claims or positions are airtight and impenetratable, and they know municipal and justice court judges usually believe them entirely without any corroborating or independent testimony over innocent people unable to defend themselves or articulate what really happened. I can't count the number of times I've seen this bullcrap repeated in justice and municipal courts around Mississippi. Nor can I count the number of times these claims are nothing but bullcrap and when challenged by a competent lawyer or enlightened judge, the claims fail. Often these officers don't want to be asked "what did I do" or have it said "I didn't do anything." They especially don't want to hear this from poor people or minorities. Black officers are often just as guilty of this as any other becuase of corrupting influences and police codes! Too often people are found guilty based on race, class, where you live or reside, whether you have money or not, whether you have connections or powerful friends, and whether the judge is independent from the police department and interested in justice. The true facts of the cases are probably the most absent thing missing from these courtrooms. An officer with a gun but no academy training is a dangerous person. Lots of officers are officers because they desire to wield power, carry a gun, and drive a bigazz car at taxpayers expense. I've heard many say it.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T14:28:13-06:00
ID
80860
Comment

Yeah, nothing wrong with hearing his side of the story. I don't think we have enough information to judge who is truly at fault yet. I think the guy pulled his gun too quickly; and, it appears the child was out of line. But, not that out of line! I think we need to see all the videos. They must not play in favor of the guard or else they would have released them.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-21T14:37:15-06:00
ID
80861
Comment

It is intriguing to see how many people have automatically assumed that Marshall was the guilty one -- without being given any evidence that he was. In the country I love, one is guilty until proven innocent, well maybe unless you're a young black man. I just can't get past the part where the officer pulled his gun -- twice -- in a crowded school, and so few people seem to be concerned about it. Would it be different if that hallway was filled with white faces? (See the video stills in the print edition; I'll see what we can do about broadcasting the videos.) Another question I have is why the district allowed those videos to be made public (showing kids' faces), but won't allow others that show kids' faces because they might get sued? As someone wise about public-records law pointed out to me yesterday—how is showing the faces of kids in a security video in the hallway different from putting their photos in yearbooks??? There is much to question here in this place where my, uh, nose doesn't belong. Someone doesn't know my nose very well.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T14:46:16-06:00
ID
80862
Comment

Glad to see the button. We are becoming a "quick to judge" society. Race, socioeconomics, and instant information are hair-triggers for those who want "whomever" to be guilty whether they are or not. Those boys at Duke got railroaded by the DA, who himself said they were guilty publicly before the investigation even really began. We are currently being inundated with stories that are supposed to keep us thinking that ALL illegal immigrants are bad, etc... The stories are endless that are supposed to make us rush to judgment without knowing all the facts.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-21T15:05:33-06:00
ID
80863
Comment

Guilt is assumed without proof due to mainstream negative media images of black children especially black males. When a few of us do something it is a mark, tell-tale sign or window into the souls, hearts, minds and natures of black folks. The same incidences in larger number can occur within the white or majority race community and the conduct will be seen as an abberation, out of the ordinary incident, anomaly or abnormal act done by a particular person, not a race, because surely whites can't be bad even with a history of native American genocide, black slavery, Jim and James Crow, white supremacy, et al. This is mainstream media concoction at its finest. It won't stop unless we fight it gung-ho stle just like Carlos is doing it. I'll bet my last dollar that if any officer, especially a black officer, had done this at Pearl, Madison or Clinton High Schools or any of the lilly-white private schools, it would have been seen as an abhorrent act worthy of adequate recess, white kids' counseling, a before-quick dismissal of the officer, and possibly a state-wide movement to upgrade police training and preparedness. It would probably get put on the state legislative agenda for some kind of consideration. Blacks kids are a burden on the system and don't need or deserve any counseling or extraordinary consideration after a traumatic event like this just like the freed slaves didn't need any counseling, assistance or help to handle their newfound freedom. Blacks are resilient, tough, less than human, and the white man's burden, so the system should give them only bare minimals in everything, if anything at all. They won't show the remaining tape footage because they don't want the cat to jump out of the bag. It's very hard to get the guvment to cooperate when they've screwed up. They're more afraid of the truth than paying money for indiscretions, errors or mistakes. Instead of coming clean they will hire a law firm to see if they can find some loophole, statute or law to allow them to escape once more and again. Carlos will probably eventually get the tape by an order from a judge pursuant to the lawsuit. We hope it's not doctored or deleted, altered or destroyed.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T15:19:53-06:00
ID
80864
Comment

Poor kid...He was just sitting in the hall with some of his buddies reviewing for the test in the upcoming class and wham! Out of the blue comes this CRAAAAAAZZY cop guy and puts a gun to his face for no reason. Then bashes his head in like four or five times, makes threats and all that! Then holds a gun to the back of his head. And all Marshall was doing was nothing. Poor mother too, had to leave work to come find out who be holding a gun to her baby head. She was at work right? I say, up it to three million!

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T15:43:25-06:00
ID
80865
Comment

And Ray, you're wrong about the same situation in white schools. Why? After the kid gets a gun pulled on him by a cop in school, the student is going to go home and get a real "a$$ woopin" by his parents. Hey, why aren't there cops in Prep and J.A. and St. Andrews? Hmmmmm...

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T15:50:16-06:00
ID
80866
Comment

I know Colby, the boy couldn't possibly be innocent of any wrongdoings. Nor the cop guilty of any indiscretions or illegal conduct. It goes against what you know is innately and genetically true and accurate. His nature and kind is incapable of complete innocence.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T15:50:56-06:00
ID
80867
Comment

Yeah, Colby I've seen some of those phantom ass-whipping you speak of! Many of them happened after seeing the boy or girl publicly curse the parents out.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T15:54:51-06:00
ID
80868
Comment

I don't know all the reasons Colby. One reason is so that the drug use want be discovered, reported, charged, indicted and convicted. But I know there isn't any drug use there either, right?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T15:57:48-06:00
ID
80869
Comment

If you know of it, report it.

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T16:08:49-06:00
ID
80870
Comment

Pass this on to the kids at the schools, Colb. I have no use for it. Just as I have no use for media propoganda about us or anyone else. I prefer the truth. I know the truth about those schools and the things I wrote about earlier. Indeed I could be slightly or moderately wrong in some regards.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T16:13:25-06:00
ID
80871
Comment

One thing should also be noted about this incident. When I was a member of the Hinds County Sheriff's Reserve, we were taught to use just enough force to control the situation. If this young man didn't pose a lethal threat, this so-called "officer" had no business pulling a gun on him. What would constitute a lethal threat? If the guy was wielding a knife and injuring people, or, had a gun himself, then that would do it. As I understand it, that wasn't the case. Funny how this "officer" hadn't been certified. Reminds me of another loose cannon I know who can't handle a firearm properly. Now, to the question of the lawsuit: I don't think this is worth the millions of dollars the lawyers are seeking. Based on the smiling photos of this young man, he doesn't look that traumatized to me. Should someone be held accountable? Absolutely. Maybe someone needs to go to jail; again, I'd have to examine more facts. Compensation? Sure. But, millions of dollars? I think not.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-21T16:38:44-06:00
ID
80872
Comment

Well, i have the interesting position of being able to see BOTH sides of this issue. I inherently have a disdain and distrust for police or law enforcement period. My experiences have been mostly unpleasant AND unwarranted. As a young African-ameerican male Im a target. but that being said I always tell the younger impressionable guys that knowing that we're a target, knowing that we're GUILTY till proven innocent, don't give the trigger-happy less qualified guys the opportunity to make you a martyr..We've got enough of those. How many African-american males are now dead at the hands of itchy trigger fingers? It could very well have happened in this case, especially from what I saw, the officer was getting his butt kicked LOL. we've got to teach these brothers how to conduct themselves because in altercations like this...they will almost always come out on the short end...either beaten or shot or jailed falsely. ...and indeed Ive asked myself that same question as Ive gotten older colby. Just why arent there any courtesy officers in J.A. Prep or St. Andrews? ... And are they in JPS JUST because of a drug problem? As I observe that flip side of the coin Im saddened cuz I know we've got a ways to go. There are bigoted people in this world. Many of em are small-town police. But at times we don't do alot to help matters either.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2007-02-21T16:47:19-06:00
ID
80873
Comment

Lawyers sue for millions to make it look like they trying to break the bank. We're often surprised when we survive a summmary judgment motion from the opposition and get peanuts. I was speaking more of trauma from other situations. I can't dispute that some trauma happened from this incident on behalf of the victim and onlookers. Whether trauma exist depends on the makeup of the victims and their accounts. People handle trauma differently. Some cry, some get angry, some fight, some are paralyzed by it, some run, some smile to keep from crying. I've seen all kinds of thing from people suffering clear trauma that surprised me. This case isn't about the money. A suit likely wouldn't have been filed if the authorities had treated this incident like it mattered or merited concern. If we have to sue, we figure we might as well make it worth our while. However, if you look at the rate large absorbant verdict are overturned you will clearly see lawyers don't get over as much as the public thinks we do.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T16:51:32-06:00
ID
80874
Comment

Kaze: You are a target cuz you look like a player. Ray: YOu just look guilty. I don't know of what, just guilty. And you'd look guilty if you were white or purple. you just guilty.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T16:58:18-06:00
ID
80875
Comment

Ray's guilty because he's a lawyer.... ;-)

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-21T17:01:04-06:00
ID
80876
Comment

I'll bet my last dollar that if any officer, especially a black officer, had done this at Pearl, Madison or Clinton High Schools or any of the lilly-white private schools, it would have been seen as an abhorrent act worthy of adequate recess, white kids' counseling, a before-quick dismissal of the officer, and possibly a state-wide movement to upgrade police training and preparedness. So true. Ray, remember the situation in Florence a while back where the white parents—and the mayor???—got bent out of a shape at a black officer? Kaze wrote about it in his column. The problem with your statement, colby, is that you are assuming that James Marshall is guilty of something that merited Officer Wiggins pullling a gun in a crowded school without actually seeing evidence of it. None of us have yet seen evidence that show that Marshall did something wrong. If it's there, they need to release it. And I'm a bit curious to know what an unarmed kid *could* have done that deserved the gun twice and a chokehold. Any thoughts on that? The other problem is that you are ignoring, or are ignorant of, all the many incidents when police officers make assumptions that men and boys of color are doing something wrong when they aren't, and then overreact. Does the name "Amadou Diallo" mean anything to you? Less famously is the scads of research that shows that school officials and police officers overreact to young people of color for *lesser* crimes than what they react to white kids for. Russ Skiba's research on the topic, referenced in the story above, is some of the best out there when it comes to dispirate uses of school discipline against kids of color. It's simply fact. His "Color of Discipline" report is enlightening reading.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:13:17-06:00
ID
80877
Comment

I know fellows. It reminds me of the lawyer representing a man for a divorce. By the time the wife stopped telling the Chancellor what a no good joker the husband was, the lawyer for the husband told him he thought he should just plead guilty and ask for mercy. The man had to remind his lawyer it was a divorce proceeding, not a criminal case. In this case the lawyer was guilty because of incompetence and the man was guilty for hiring a lawyer who didn't even know what kind of case he was representing the man for. We're all guilty of something. I was probably guilty of going overboard in my description about the manner the races are often viewed via callous media construction. Yet I'm still by and large correct.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T17:13:41-06:00
ID
80878
Comment

I agree with Ray: This is bigger than the money. And the problem in our country is that money is the only thing that talks. I mean, we usually refuse to even admit or have a conversation about these things happening, so the only way to get the public to talk about them, or to demand change, is for expensive lawsuits to be filed. Now, we're talking about it. Think about it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:15:00-06:00
ID
80879
Comment

You are by and large correct, Ray. Not everyone wants to hear it, but that doesn't make it wrong.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:15:43-06:00
ID
80880
Comment

I seem to remember some JA kids getting strip searched on a field trip to a prison. so much for nothing happens to them.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T17:32:07-06:00
ID
80881
Comment

I'm also a bit curious about the baby part. That does denote a certain irresponsibility. On the other hand, I'm sure there are no former 17-year-old males out there, or reading this, who have (a) had sex, (b) not used proper protection, (c) impregnated their girlfriend, or (d) paid for an abortion. It does sound like James Marshall is there with his girlfriend, trying to support her and the baby. How many 17-year-old fathers out there have been a bit less than responsible on that particular front? And I wonder how many of the perfect people judging him for having a baby too young would also have a hissy fit if they had chosen abortion instead? So, does the discussion of Mr. Marshall's level of irresponsibility on the fatherhood front have anything to do with the fact of whether the police officer, the school, or the city did everything they could to ensure the safety of young people, whether him or the other kids in the school? Isn't that the real issue here and in the lawsuit?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:33:40-06:00
ID
80882
Comment

O.K. Ray, Call me the next time you represent or hear of an attorney representing a kid after he gets shot or has a gun pulled on them by neighbor down the street. Talk about trauma, lost wages, mental anguish, etc... Does that victim not have the same rights? WHa? Who was that, oh, it was just the money talking...

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T17:35:26-06:00
ID
80883
Comment

It has nothing to do with the incident that day. Now if its part of a larger profile where he gets in trouble on a regular basis, does poorly in school, and fathers kids out of wedlock, then it might be relevant.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T17:35:39-06:00
ID
80884
Comment

Kingfish, read the report. No smart person would say that "nothing" wrong ever happens to white kids. The problem is that when it does, it's much more likely to draw intense outrage than when it happens to kids of color. Thus, such abuse of white kids happens less often -- squeaky wheel and all that. Also, what the school-discipine research shows clearly is that kids of color have been so discriminated against for so long on the discipline front that the attempt is to "equalize" the problem by being harder on white kids rather than figuring out how to give all kids their due process rights. That's why we've heard so much about trivial zero-tolerance nonsense—expelled for lemon drops, for instance—against "good" kids in recent years. The policies are being expanded to hide the history of discrimination against certain kids. I'm solid on this, by the way, Kingfish. This is my baby. I had a hoity-toity child-policy fellowship to look at this problem full time for six months; thus, I really began to understand the underlying problems. A binary approach -- that is, an ignorant statement of it can't be discrimination against a black kid if it happens to a white kid sometimes -- will not help on this issue. It's more complicated than that. Start by reading Skiba's report. Then really think about this issue, and examine your own tendencies to assume kids who look a certain way are "bad," and others are "good" (I've done it; I won't deny it). Then imagine if you were a fearful young police officer carrying around that kind of distrust and stereotypes. The bottom line here is about what the police officer did and whether there were real grounds to do it—and whether the PD, city and school system did enough in advance to ensure that such overuses of force could not happen on school grounds. Keep your eyes no the prize.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:40:25-06:00
ID
80885
Comment

And I'm a bit curious to know what an unarmed kid *could* have done that deserved the gun twice and a chokehold. Any thoughts on that? -ladd You're serious?

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T17:41:55-06:00
ID
80886
Comment

Cliff? You want to take that one?

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T17:42:28-06:00
ID
80887
Comment

Now if its part of a larger profile where he gets in trouble on a regular basis, does poorly in school, and fathers kids out of wedlock, then it might be relevant. Still not following. What does a young man having sex without protection have to do with the relevancy of whether he did something on a particular day to justify such use of force? This is really starting to feel like one of those Grisham moments where people need to close their eyes and imagine this entire scenario with the races of everyone involved switched. Even if you won't say it here, please be honest with yourself about how it would feel to you had the officer been black, and the young man with the lighter, the four quarters (and the pregnant girlfriend), not to mention all the kids in the hall, been white. Have would you feel about the two unholsterings and the chokehold? Still no discomfort? Really? Truly? I don't believe you.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:43:58-06:00
ID
80888
Comment

You're serious? Yes. Bring it on. Don't pass it off to Cliff. I believe you're up to it, colby.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:44:53-06:00
ID
80889
Comment

Ms Ladd, where have I disputed you on this? WOuld you please point it out to me? I haven't read the whole story but my first impression is the cop was not trained and thus should not have been in that environment. I don't blame him but those who employed him because they should know better. Just be thankful that nothing worse happened, for the kids sake and also for that cops sake as he would've had that on his conscience forever. You never draw a weapon unless you intend to use it and have a reasonable fear of a threat. as for the zero tolerance stuff, I think most of it is an overreaction to Columbine, Pearl, and the other tragedies. Of course, it doesn't help when in places like New Orleans kids lose fistfights and their parents give them guns to go shoot the other kids.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T17:48:11-06:00
ID
80890
Comment

The interesting thing about profiling Kaze is that it gets better or happens less as you age. I know this isn't any consolation and I was surprised it slowed or stopped happening to me at all. About 3 years ago Donna was the emcee at a discussion involving the book "A Lesson Before Dying" at the downtown library, and I listened to a young black male in deep pain and near rage talk about how white women or white people guarded their purses and belongings when in his company or how the majority race looks upon him and other young blacks with ssspicion of criminal intent although they are totally innocent of any wrongdoings and are college students. One youngsters was sickened by this to the point of giving up on the idea and hope for white folks to change their perception of him or us. I wanted to tell him that I have personally experienced that stereotyping more times than I could count, and it happened more in Houston than here to me. I didn't tell him this and opted instead to tell him of times white folks, men and women (mostly women) have decided to go against the expected wishes and hopes of other whites and have voted for life rather than death where a black male had killed a white person. I still worry about whether I did the right thing at that moment and time, but I didn't want that young man to think he wouldn't ever see any good deeds from some white folks. Or that he could never overcome this false and constructed image of him.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T17:50:27-06:00
ID
80891
Comment

Where would you like to meet? I'll give you a loaded gun in a holster then attack you. And remember, you can't use your gun but I can use your gun if I want. After you get out of the hospital, I'll meet you for a drink somewhere so we can finish the discussion. My treat. BTW. What if the cop was white and the kid was white? What if the cop was black and the kid was black?

Author
colby
Date
2007-02-21T17:53:32-06:00
ID
80892
Comment

Actually, Kingfish, my "you" wasn't really directed at you, although I see how it sounded like it. I'm talking more generally to the people who can't understand why anyone would dare to question the police on this one due to James Marshall's "record." It's a plural "you," that is. Actually, the ZT stuff was hitting hard before the school shootings. Trust me: They were a reaction to lawsuits being brought for all the disciplinary discrimination against certain kids and not others over the years. At the same time that ZT became all the rage, so did trying to prevent parents from suing for their rights with nasty little "tort reform" efforts in schools. Of course, it doesn't help when in places like New Orleans kids lose fistfights and their parents give them guns to go shoot the other kids. That happened in Neshoba County, too, and it wasn't just black kids. Stereotypes really don't help, Kingfish. The most "hunted" victims in our state's history has been young black males. Don't make it suddenly sound like they are the only predators out there; that's the kind of rhetoric that was used to justify the "hunting" of them in the first place. Now, it's used to justify brutality and violation of their constitutional rights that, ironically, leads to more criminality on the part of the hunted. Young people tend to live up (or down to) expectations of them. If you want to help young people, believe in their capabilities and goodness until proven otherwise. And don't buy into stereotypes, thus perpetuating them. Be part of the solution.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:55:11-06:00
ID
80893
Comment

Interesting, colby. Who said anything about the officer being attacked (except for him; the tapes don't show that). Also, I'll answer your question by quoting the man who brought community policing to NYC, who was a good friend of mine and teacher on criminal-justice issues: When someone is coming at you with their fists, you get out of the way first. You don't unholster and make the situation worse. There are very few situations where pulling a gun on an unarmed person is justified by the police. Or so say criminal justice experts. Of course, it doesn't sound like the officer had enough training to perhaps understand where these lines are drawn, or crossed. Thus, the problem with him walking around alone with a gun on his hip in a crowded school.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T17:58:04-06:00
ID
80894
Comment

Colby, I think Cliff would tell you that police carry--or should carry--retention holsters that make it somewhat difficult for an assailant to just grab an officer's gun and use it on him. Did you see any of the video, Colby? There was no "attack" by the student, and there was no just provocation for the officer to draw his firearm.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-02-21T18:05:42-06:00
ID
80895
Comment

Ms Ladd, without digressing from the main topic here, I can assure you from reading TP every day and being down there that right now it is not a stereotype. I wish that it was, trust me. carry on. INteresting discussion.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T18:14:30-06:00
ID
80896
Comment

Too may police officers are scared, prejudiced, racist, and biased white boys who believe every propogandized thing the media, their parents, extended family and friends told them about minorities, especially blacks and latinos. And as soon as any disturbance of any serious nature or magnitude occurs their first inclination is to pull their guns and prepare to shoot. Any encroachment into their space warrants a shooting whether armed or not. Incidences are too numerous to recount to prove this. There shouldn't even be any questions. Coward and morons like these shouldn't even be police officers. They help no one.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T18:17:39-06:00
ID
80897
Comment

Ray: you also have to make a case for someone who is not certified or is not trained. He gets into a situation and he might not have been taught how to handle it. That is why I am more critical of the school system and the law enforcement agency that trains him. The dirty little secret is that too often in MS, the local law enforcement agencies won't pay for officers to be trained.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T18:20:45-06:00
ID
80898
Comment

I agree with the training aspect of the matter.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T18:21:40-06:00
ID
80899
Comment

The point, King, is that using that as an example in a binary way here is *using* a stereotype. You might be missing my point. you also have to make a case for someone who is not certified or is not trained. He gets into a situation and he might not have been taught how to handle it. That is why I am more critical of the school system and the law enforcement agency that trains him. Completely agreed. That is the big issue here; however, it is also an issue—which is made plainer every time someone posts an assumption about Marshall's criminality—of what situations are justified by the public and which ones aren't. That is an issue for our generation to ponder, being that we're try to slough off the legacy of our past. If we want to be a new Mississippi, we've got to be a new Mississippi, not just declare that we are. That means facing these stereotypes imbedded in our psyche.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-21T18:24:51-06:00
ID
80900
Comment

Amen on that 4:55 post, Donna. I love that last paragraph. Can a black kid get some of that?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-21T18:31:52-06:00
ID
80901
Comment

all right, I've got a gripe. I click on last 100 comments and all page does is refresh. and you've shortened the comments section it seems. Not as many posts on home page. and thanks for making sure I can't look at comments on my blackberry when I look at home page. Everyone's against Kingfish.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-02-21T18:48:22-06:00
ID
80902
Comment

...There was no "attack" Brian but c'mon from the tape I saw that officer was coming up on the short end of that altercation LOL..He was prone on the ground tussling with a guy who was over him and clearly had the ups. And PLEASE PLEASE don't come back with "you're justifying him pulling a weapon line" Ive had several pulled on me and I made NO physical contact with the officer at all... Im just saying...I actually believe the guy was about to get whooped by a high school kid in front of a bunch of other high school kids and pulled his pistol to save face. Cops DO do that ya know. ..Thats why Im stressing that I can see BOTH sides of this. The cop obviously wasnt trained properly or else he would have diffused the situation easily. There were probably some latent racist issues there. BUT also as a Black male I know that cops have itchy trigger fingers and love to use that damn billy club. Try to fight back..and you may become a martyr. bottom line. Had the kid not faought back..the incident would have been on tape and there could be NO debate on the issue. Folks are arguing the issue because the tape shows both parties grappling. Im just saying.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2007-02-22T11:54:36-06:00
ID
80903
Comment

I do wonder how the officer wound up getting knocked down? Was it accidental, was the child being pushed by others, did the child have any intentions of harming the officer, did the child rush the officer, were the officer and boy fighting or not, et al. I have also had guns pulled on me by police officers twice, and shot at a couple of times by hoodlums. The time I nearly got shot for sure by a Madison County officer a riot was occurring at college with a person was pushing me toward the officer. The other time involving a police officer also occurred during a riot at high school. I was merely standing there unafraid and looking quite angry and the officer didn't appreciate my lack of fear and clear anger toward him. He pulled the gun to scare me. Fortunately, the officer recognized what was happening or was led by some other force to not shoot me. If the boy or child rushed the officer freely and intentionally intending to harm him then I can see why the officer took measures to stop any further encroachment or advancement toward him. I do give the officer lots of credit for not shooting.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-22T12:10:29-06:00
ID
80904
Comment

Again, If the teen posed no lethal threat, the gun shouldn't have been pulled. Law officers are trained to use just enough force to control the situation, not escalate it. And Brian, agreed on the retention holster. A "trained" officer will have at least a level 2 retention holster. This prevents a potential suspect from snatching the gun out of the holster, because they won't know how the holster works. From the video, I can't really tell it's a retention holster or not. The teen may have tried to grab the gun after it was drawn by the so-called, untrained "officer". Hell, if someone illegally tried to stick a gun in my face, I'd take it away from them; there are ways to do it. I don't care who they are. Also, it's important to note that if you are trained with a handgun, you want as much distance between you , and the person it's pulled on. Distance from your opponet in a gunfight is your friend. You don't walk up and place the gun against the opponet's body. That's just stupid, and a good way to get the gun taken from you. And trained officer will retreat as he is engaging the threat. Clearly that wasn't the case here. This so-called "officer" just didn't know what the hell he was doing. I still don't think this teen deserves millions of dollars though.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-22T12:17:38-06:00
ID
80905
Comment

I would like to reiterate that Officer Casey Wiggins made no mention of James Marshall attempting to unholster his gun in his incident report. He writes: "...[T]he suspect then grabbed me and began struggling with me, then through [sic] me towards a door that was behind me." I compare this version with Marshall's version in my story, which I have excerpted below: Marshall tells the story like this: Wiggins grabbed Marshall and another boy in the group from behind and threw them against the door to the teacher’s lounge. In his incident report, Wiggins says it was the other way around: that the shorter and scrawnier Marshall threw him against the door behind him, which was cracked open. In fact, the door was shut closed. Only when the teacher inside opened the door to investigate a noise in the hallway did the door open and Wiggins and Marshall stumble through. For Wiggins’ version to corroborate, a miracle had to have happened: At the exact moment that Wiggins’ body struck the door to the teacher’s lounge, the teacher had to have opened it. Instead, Marshall says that Wiggins grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off the door toward his body. As he drew him closer, Wiggins, with his back to the door, kicked at Marshall’s ankles to bring his feet out from under him. When the door opened, the officer’s weight was balanced against the door, and he fell through, bringing the student with him.

Author
msaldana
Date
2007-02-27T11:13:07-06:00
ID
80906
Comment

I still don't think this teen deserves millions of dollars though. It's not about deserving, Cliff. And if it was, who are you or I to say who "deserves" waht? What lawsuits of this type are about is deterrance. People could have been killed that day. Society must deter cities and schools from allowing untrained officers to start pulling weapons in crowded schools. Often, the only way to deter—especially in the U.S.—is with expensive lawsuits. It's worth it to keep people alive.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T11:33:22-06:00
ID
80907
Comment

I see your point. I also think people losing their jobs and their right to stay in law enforcement would do it. Jail time for some of the bad ones as well.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-27T12:54:48-06:00
ID
80908
Comment

Right. The problem is when a city and a school district and a community does not seem to have the will to believe that an officer might be at fault and endangering students' lives, especially when those students are African Americans in a public school.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T12:59:51-06:00
ID
80909
Comment

"It's not about deserving, Cliff. And if it was, who are you or I to say who "deserves" what?" I would say we have everything to say about it. We are voters, therefor a jury of his peers. Additionally, if this is seen by the public a bogus "dollar hollar", it could hurt more serious cases in the future.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-27T13:01:56-06:00
ID
80910
Comment

I'm curious what the evidence is that this is a "dollar hollar," whatever that is. I remember that folks said that about families violated by sexual priests, but when you talk to those families, you realize that the trauma they went through inspire them to ensure that other families don't go through the same thing. I'd say being a parent and having a gun pulled (twice) on your unarmed son, and then having the school/police not even call you is pretty damn traumatic. And the idea that the cop could have shot your son, or other children, is pretty major as well. I think this sounds like a textbook reason that we need the deterrent effects of expensive lawsuits—to help make everyone involved, including the public, aware of where boundaries are so that they we demand them, before having to pay for expensive lawsuits, or people get killed needlessly.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T13:46:42-06:00
ID
80911
Comment

I filed a suit against Oakley Training School in 1997 or thereby where a black child whose father was in prison in Michigan and his mother in prison in Mississippi, was allowed to die from meningitis due to deliberate indifference, a degree of carelessness more extreme than ordinary medical negligence, although the child was clearly sick, ammonia couldn't re-allert him, was listless, couldn't walk or talk and died before the Oakley Medical staff finally decided to send the child to a real hospital. The Sate of Mississippi took the position that the child had no one to fight for him and no one to care therefore nothing could happen to them. I knew sovereign immunity would probably cause me to be dismissed without any recovery but I knew I had to try to right that wrong. Before suing I was ignored and my abilities doubted. In a few weeks to months everybody at Oakley and connected therewith knew my name and intentions. I lost $10,000.00 of my personal money on depositions and other fees, but a few years later the justice department sued Oakley and Columbia Training Schools for the same kinds of ineptitude, indiscretions, negligence, and deliberate indifference. The justice Department called me while preparing their suit and obtained a copy of my petition. They filed an almost idential lawsuit and won. I was right although I lost and didn't get a penny. The law has changed a lot since I took the swim in turbulent waters. I filed for millions to frighten and let the State know I intended to prove and highlight their errors. Oftentimes, you don't really desire lots of money or any money, but money is the only thing in some cases that talks when it comes to public officials and the so-called mighty and powerful. People seem to fixate on the money request and not the facts or egregiousness of the acts against the victims in civil cases. Before the suit lots of people ignored Marshall and Carlos. Look what happened after the suit was filed? Money talks. The money I lost was the best money I ever spent. The fear and attention I brought to the matter were payment enough for me. They offered several times the amount money I spent for me to go away but I didn't and eventually got dismissed by the judge on immunity. I wanted the community to see what goes on at Oakley. To this day I still get calls from Oakley employees when something goes wrong there. Many of them look up to me as some kind of hero for fighting a fight that had to be fought.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-27T14:34:14-06:00
ID
80912
Comment

Thank you for what you do, Ray. Mississippi's a better place for it. And you make such a good point: It's the culprits in such cases who *want* the public to believe that it's all about greedy people. The truth is, the greed of the people suing is not of much interest to me; everyone is greedy in one way or another (including, usually, the folks being sued). I approach this with the same moral tenor that I approach homeless people I give money to—I'm not going to fixate on what they are going to do with the money. I'm going to give because I can, and hope that each act of giving will add up to a better world, even if it's because it forces busy people like me simply to notice the less fortunate and try to do something to prevent such problems. I see lawsuits by victims in the same way. They are often the *only* way to raise awareness and deter future atrocities. And if some people get extra-rich along the way, that's the price that the offenders forced society to pay. And I always think it's bizarre that so many people seem much more concerned about a poor victim "getting rich" than they do about an immoral company (or institution) getting rich off those people in the first place. (That's not the case above; I'm on a bit of a tangent.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T14:54:33-06:00
ID
80913
Comment

Oh, and it's funny how often tort-reform-hungry media (such as The Clarion-Ledger) give so much less attention to reduced damage payouts than they do the original rulings, eh?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T14:55:52-06:00
ID
80914
Comment

wow. great post, Ray.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-02-27T15:11:10-06:00
ID
80915
Comment

Y'all are welcome. Just trying to do the best I can while I can before my time runs out.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-02-27T15:54:26-06:00
ID
80916
Comment

What Ray did for Oakley falls under the the kind of money that should have been paid. I'm just not convinced (yet) of the facts surrounding this case.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-27T17:17:40-06:00
ID
80917
Comment

Don't get me wrong: I'm not arguing that the facts of this case definitely merit a pay-out to the Marshall family. There could yet be stuff we don't know. My point is that, if it in fact turns out that the district and the PD were putting an untrained officer in a public school who pulled his gun twice on an unarmed kid around crowds of kids and then didn't call his parents, then I see a reason that some folks *need* to be hit with a big payout—in order to keep such a dangerous situation from happening again. I truly cannot imagine anything more scary than putting under-trained officers with guns in schools.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T17:21:54-06:00
ID
80918
Comment

Agreed on all counts except for the dollar amounts(s). I'd like to see someone stripped of their badges all the way to the top. Also jail time for someone illegally pulling a gun in this situation.

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2007-02-27T17:56:22-06:00
ID
80919
Comment

The problem is that money talks in America. Sometimes it's the only thing that does. We see it over and over again. It's one thing to fire one bad employee; it's another to be forced to change the culture that allowed him to be there. That's where lawsuits come in. They are a very necessary evil. Unfortunate, but true.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-27T18:01:10-06:00
ID
80920
Comment

I'm now hearing attorney and representative Willie Perkins is asking Carlos to dismiss his wife, the mayor from the lawsuit or face the consequences. I know Mr. and Mrs Perkins well from our college days and know for a fact both are good people without any grudege against the boy and his family. Mayor Perkins cetainly doesn't condone police brutality or indiscretions but I imagine she's trying to let the system run its course. Mr. Perkins as expected is trying to protect his wife for being in a suit be believes she shouldn't be in. As to the student, to many people possess the mass media and mainstream picture based in racist and sexist views wherein it's felt the boy's spirit and masculinity have to be broken in order for the status quo to be maintained and the majority to feel safe and satisfied that the boy knows his place and has been controlled. Black kids need real love, nurturing, protection, provison, second chances, discipline, emotional support, self-esteem, et al, just like all other children. Too often, a black mother is left to try to provide all of these with the father being present (but dysfunctional or inadequate as expressed by the inability to love, nurture, raise, train, support, and discipline without abusing, shaming or killing self-esteem, etc.) or not present at all. Single mothers catch too much hell and are rearely given credit for the good jobs they often do against incredible odds. Yet when something goes wrong they're blamed by government officials for having children they can't raise and provide for along, by fathers who should be flogged for not being worth the screw that got them here, and by all others who let the mass media and mainstream thinking define what is true and real. I don't blame the mother of the boy for fighting to save and protect him. Why isn't the daddy doing the same if he's alive?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2007-03-03T13:31:21-06:00
ID
80921
Comment

Prep and JA are pros at covering up their drug problem! They have the same problems that all of the public schools have. It's very unfortunate that they choose to sweep it under the rug. I am aware of a recent incident where drugs were found in a students hand at Prep and the headmaster just called his father to come pick him up. I believe all the public school kids get carted off in a police car--right?

Author
iluvmiss
Date
2007-04-16T00:41:19-06:00
ID
130236
Comment

The Greenwood police officer, whom Matt Saldaña wrote about in this excellent cover story, has resigned, according to the Associated Press. Two years later.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-05-28T08:39:00-06:00

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