Relatives of black man shot by white officer file lawsuit

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2016 6:52 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The son of a black man fatally shot by a white Mississippi police officer in 2015 has filed a lawsuit against the former officer, the city of Columbus and others for what it called a wrongful death.

The civil suit was filed Thursday in federal court in Aberdeen by an appointed guardian for the underage son of 26-year-old shooting victim Ricky Ball. The suit says the shooting by officer Canyon Boykin was unjustified. It also claims another officer planted a gun on Ball's body and that Columbus officials had known Boykin was a problem after a 2014 encounter with a black store manager.

City spokesman Joe Dillon said city lawyers hadn't received the lawsuit as of Friday morning and couldn't comment on its claims. The suit names Boykin and three others who were then Columbus officers, along with the city and a former police chief.

Boykin said he shot Ball after the man appeared to point a gun at him during a foot chase Oct. 16, 2015. The officer was later fired and then in September indicted on a manslaughter charge. His attorney Jim Waide, when contacted Friday, said Boykin stands by his account.

Boykin has sued the city, saying his firing violated his civil rights.

Investigators haven't released their report, but Thursday's lawsuit challenges Boykin's version of events. It alleges that Columbus leaders had known a "code of silence" exists whereby officers with the Columbus police department didn't report other officers' misconduct.

The city fired Boykin within weeks of the shooting as he sought to resign, with authorities saying he had broken department policy by not turning on his body camera, by inviting his then-fiancee to ride along with the patrol without permission, and by making social media posts that were derogatory toward African-Americans and some others.

Boykin, in his lawsuit against the city, said he shocked Ball with a stun gun, and then saw while Ball was lying on the ground that he had a handgun. Boykin said that Ball recovered from the shock and began to run again, turning as if to shoot the officer. Boykin said that's when he shot Ball. The shooting victim, hit twice by bullets, died at a hospital.

The lawsuit disputes that Ball could have recovered from the stun gun. It added that an autopsy reported Ball was shot in the back.

The suit questions the handgun found near Ball, alleging that another officer placed it there. The suit also says that two incident reports in the case — only one of which says Boykin used a stun gun and that Ball had a pistol — were part of a "cover up."

The suit also cited Boykin's July 2014 arrest of a store manager, who was accused of disobeying a police officer — a charge later dismissed. It said the manager claimed Boykin and three other officers racially profiled him and harassed him in a parking lot as he was preparing to open the store one day. None of the officers turned their body cameras on, violating city policy, though the store manager asked that they be activated, according to the suit. It added that the incident should have put Columbus officials on notice that Boykin wasn't using his body camera and might have racist tendencies.

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