Federal law enforcement officials are currently investigating the case of a white dad and his son, who allegedly shot at and chased each other. D’Monterrio Gibson, a 24-year-oldMoments after receiving a parcel from Brookhaven in Miss., a FedEx driver black delivered it.
Carlos Moore, the driver’s lawyer, tells TIME that he has had conversations about In the latter part of January with officials inside the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division and was told by Brookhaven Police that the FBI collected materials related to the case on Thursday.
“The federal government is taking this seriously and we do believe that they are looking into it for [possible] hate crime,” says Moore.
DOJ, FBI and other divisions of the FBI do not typically confirm or deny whether an official investigation has begun or whether a possible federal case is being considered.
Gibson claims he feels fortunate to be alive. Moore has significant concerns for Moore and his relatives in Brookhaven. Moore grew up in Brookhaven, Mississippi and describes it as “a small Mississippi community with a rich history.” Rashtyol violence is a deadly form of racial aggression.
“These men are still on the loose,” Moore says. Brandon Case, 35 years old, and Gregory Case, his father (58 year-old), were charged with the crime eight days after it occurred. Bonds were issued and the son was released. Moore fears for Gibson’s safety because Gibson lives in an adjacent town. “They chased him to the interstate last time, what’s stopping them from chasing him now. What’s stopping them from going after him at this point?”
Historical data shows that Mississippi has been ranked among the top states for lynchings. The Equal Justice Initiative produced a comprehensive analysis on racial violence.. It is the state where Emmett Till was kidnapped and killed–and the men who later admitted to his murder were acquitted by an all white jury. Brookhaven also has a history of racism. A Brookhaven white man shot a Black civil right activist on the lawn of Lincoln County Courthouse. There were no arrests. There was no conviction. The U.S. Justice Department closed a cold-case investigation into the shooting in 2016..
“No one was ever brought to justice,” Moore says.
Dee Bates was the chief prosecutor in the district as of Friday afternoon. Three-county Mississippi RegionBrookhaven is included. However, Brookhaven has not yet been served with the case by municipal prosecutors. Local law enforcement, under the state’s procedures, have initiated charges against the Cases, in connection with the reported events. A charge has been filed against the younger Case for a By shooting at an unoccupied vehicle, the elder Case was charged with felonious intention to cause bodily injuries using a firearm. He was accused of conspiring unlawfully and feloniously with his son, to commit aggravated attack by attempting to inflict bodily injury. Friday’s official was unable to confirm whether either of the defendants had plead guilty in each case.
“I would like to assure everyone that the victim’s voice will be heard,” Bates says after also emphasizing that the accused are, as always, innocent until proven guilty. “When the grand jury determines the facts and the appropriate charges I’m certain they will do what they are charged to do, enforce the law blindly…It is going to be fair and just.”
Gibson, his lawyer and the rest of the story are alarming. Gibson, in a FedExUniform and driving a van carrying Hertz logos (due FedEx) MangelMoore claims that he delivered a parcel to Brookhaven’s predominantly white neighborhood. Gibson almost got chased, shot at, and corralled by two white men before he finally reached the highway. Bullet holes and punctured packages were found in Gibson’s delivery van and, later, a shell casing. The Cases were subsequently charged with the crime and released to surrender to Brookhaven Police eight days later.
Gibson’s lawyer says that, in the interim, Gibson came to believe that local law enforcement officials were minimizing the seriousness of the alleged crimes, events that Gibson has said could have easily cost him his life. People in Brookhaven have begun to question potential conflicts of interest – pre-existing relationships between key police officers connected to the case and the two men charged in connection with the incident. But what’s set off a flurry of commentary on social media, as well as in activist and legal circles across the country, is the way multiple elements of the Brookhaven case seem to echo what happened in 2020 near Brunswick, Ga., where Ahmaud Arbery lived and died.
Continue reading: What Ahmaud Arbery’s Death Has Meant for the Place Where He Lived
In Brunswick, Travis and Gregory McMichael, the father and son responsible for Arbery’s death, have since been convicted of murder and assault. They are currently facing federal hate crime charges. Immediately after Arbery’s shooting death, local officials did not arrest the men. Activists, members of Arberys family and journalists probed events the day he died, mounted protests and drew public attention to the case, including that of the state’s Republican governor. Two months after Arbery died, state police took control of the investigation. The two men were arrested by state authorities a few days later. (A third man, William “Roddie” Bryan was also arrested, charged and convicted in state court of murder and assault. Federal hate crime charges are also against him. Gregory McMichael was the father. He had previously worked as an investigator with the local district attorney. Initial evidence suggested that both the first prosecutor and the second one were right. There has not been any crime and no arrests are warranted..
“It clearly seems to be a classic copycat situation,” Moore says. “If these two are allowed to get away with attempted murder others are going to continue to do this and it’s going to be a very dangerous time to be a Black delivery driver.”
Brookhaven Chief Police Both Kenneth Collins (Black) and Assistant Chief Chris Case (White) did not reply to Friday’s requests for comment. Collins has said in press conferences that Brookhaven is not a racist community.Collins, according to Moore, has also told local activists not to “cause trouble,” “bring in outsiders” or initiate protests.
Brandon and Gregory Case Bates stresses that while victims can be presumed innocent, they are also held responsible for the safety of others and their rights. Other witnesses and victims will also be permitted to testify. And if factual indications of obstruction of justice or official misconduct emerge, multiple agencies including the FBI and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office would likely become involved.
Moore says that Moore does not believe the dominant community views of safety and justice will provide protection for Gibson.
“They have a history for heinous crimes in that county,” Moore says. “Had they killed this man, there would be no video. … But in this instance, God was gracious to allow this man to live. After evading the man trying to take him out of his truck, he was then able dodge the man with a gun standing in the middle the road. While there were several shots that contacted the vehicle, even the packages, he was not struck, by God’s grace.”
What’s more, the grand jury which will consider advancing indictments against the white father and son accused of chasing and shooting at Gibson’s vehicle will not be drawn from Brookhaven is a small town with about 11600 residents. 60% of its inhabitants identify themselves as Black.. Like other similar groups around the country the jury pool will be drawn from Brookhaven or the nearby county. Lincoln County has approximately 34,800 residents, and nearly 67% identify themselves as white.. Lincoln County also shares many similarities with other areas of the state politically. In November 2020, 71% voted for Donald Trump.
Continue reading: Ahmaud Arbery and America’s White Juror Problem
Gibson has told Moore that he is “not only speaking up for himself but for those who did not make it, like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and others, who did not make it at the hands of these white racist men,” Moore says.
Gibson’s FedEx manager accompanied him to the police station to file a report about the incident. Gibson claims that police repeatedly asked him to recount the events. He became concerned that officers would try to minimize or alter his details. One officer said he was going to play devil’s advocate. One officer inquired if Gibson did something to convince the men that chased him and shot at them that Gibson was suspicious.
“I replied, ‘No sir, I was just doing my job. If they thought I was suspicious, then that’s on them’,” Gibson says, “That was like disrespectful to me, because it’s like victim shaming.”
Gibson, who said he was initially overconfident–certain he could handle things and carry on–went back to work.He was put on the same delivery route. Gibson experienced a panic attack when he was called back to Brookhaven for the second time. The young man’s heart began to race. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe and he had to stop trying to deliver anything. They promised him that they would help get him out of Brookhaven. Gibson claims that Gibson was offered unpaid time off.
After national media attention had turned to the Brookhaven incident, FedEx’s regional manager contacted Gibson and Moore, and informed them that they would be retroactively paying Gibson for January 31, 2012. FedEx executive stated that they would pay Gibson counseling, provide 90-day job guarantee, give Gibson three weeks paid vacation, and then reevaluate the situation.
FedEx sent TIME a statement saying that they were taking the situation seriously. “We are shocked by this criminal act against our team member, D’Monterrio Gibson. Our top priority is the safety of our employees and we will continue to focus on their well-being. We continue to support Mr. Gibson, including compensation, as we cooperate with investigating authorities,” the company said.
Gibson was relieved to learn that the FBI, another federal agency, visited Brookhaven Friday. He’d had to convince himself to speak up after contemplating how many cases of dead Black people have gone unresolved in Mississippi.
“He will be heard,” Bates, the Brookhaven area district attorney, says..”I guarantee you that. That is what I promise to all the residents of Mississippi, my state and the United States. He will be heard.”