Greenwood Cop Trial Delayed a Year | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Greenwood Cop Trial Delayed a Year

U.S. Magistrate Judge Eugene Bogen has set July 7, 2008, as the trial date for the $2 million assault and battery and wrongful imprisonment suit against Greenwood Law Enforcement Trainee Casey Wiggins. Security cameras captured Wiggins twice pulling a gun on James Marshall, an unarmed 17-year-old, in a Greenwood High School teacher's lounge and crowded hallway last December.

er representing Marshall (now 18), also named Greenwood Police Chief Henry Harris, Mayor Sheriel Perkins, Greenwood Public School District Superintendent Leslie Daniels, Greenwood High School Principal Percy Powell, the City of Greenwood and the Greenwood Public School District as defendants in the suit, citing gross negligence in failing to monitor Wiggins. After the Dec. 6, 2006, arrest, Wiggins remained an employee of the Greenwood Police Department.

Under Mississippi state regulations, law enforcement trainees such as Wiggins "shall not have the authority to use force, bear arms, make arrests or exercise any of the powers of a peace officer unless under the direct control and supervision of a law enforcement officer." Wiggins was unaccompanied when he apprehended Marshall on Dec. 6, 2006.

On July 2, Wiggins will attend a probable-cause hearing in the Leflore County Courthouse in Greenwood for criminal assault charges he faces in conjunction with the Dec. 6 incident.

On July 18, Leflore County Chancery Judge Jon Barnwell will rule on separate public records requests that Moore and the Jackson Free Press filed asking for additional Greenwood High School surveillance footage from Dec. 6. The Mississippi ACLU will represent the JFP, which filed its request on Feb. 15. On Feb. 16, Greenwood Public School District Attorney Richard Oakes, who denied JFP's request, filed a legal injunction to block the release of video footage of the incident. That same day, Leflore County Chancery Judge Jon Barnwell—who will preside over the July 18 hearing—instructed Oakes to "ignore" all additional public-records requests.

Last week The Taxpayers Channel, a public-access TV station in Greenwood, posted a video interview with Moore and Marshall, in which Marshall said that Wiggins threatened to kill him "more than twice" as the trainee held a gun to his head.

On Friday, Tim Kalich, editor of The Greenwood Commonwealth, erroneously referred to Marshall's statements as his first time he "publicly made the allegation" that Wiggins threatened to kill him. However, an article published by the JFP on Feb. 14 reported this same claim: "When Wiggins had his gun pointed at him, the officer said, 'I'm going to kill you.'"

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