Miss. AG to review case of police stun gun death

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Mississippi Attorney General’s office is set to review evidence and decide whether to prosecute the case of a Cleveland man who died after being jolted twice by police stun guns, officials said Monday.

Jermaine Williams, 30, died July 23 after officers responded to a call about loiterers. Police Chief Charles “Buster” Bingham has said officers found what they believed to be a bag of cocaine, which Williams allegedly grabbed and ran. Bingham said officers used the stun guns to subdue Williams when he became combative.

Jon Kalahar, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Attorney General Jim Hood’s office will take a look at the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s findings after District Attorney Brenda Mitchell declined to present the case to a grand jury.

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Kalahar said Mitchell cited a conflict of interest because she works closely with the Cleveland Police Department.

“The AG’s office is expected to review MBI’s investigation. They will then decide whether the case goes before a grand jury,” Kalahar said in an e-mail on Monday.

Jan Schaefer, the spokeswoman for Hood’s office, confirmed he was reviewing the case.

Bingham said Monday that officers Stanley Perry and Bryan Gozan remained on administrative leave. Bingham declined to discuss any specifics of the case because of possible litigation.

Bingham also wouldn’t say how long his department had been using the stun guns.

Cleveland officials have received a notice of intent to file a lawsuit from Ed Flechas, a Jackson lawyer representing Williams’ family, said Jamie Jacks, the city attorney. Flechas was out of town Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said his organization has been monitoring the situation in Cleveland, located in the Mississippi Delta region.

“It’s encouraging that the DA has the wisdom to recuse herself, and allow for the attorney general to look into the matter so that there will be an impartial entity reviewing the case,” Johnson said.

Johnson said law enforcement officers are to “uphold the greatest standard of care when handling dangerous weapons.”