COLUMBUS, Miss. — Current and former sheriffs of Lowndes County are among those saying the manslaughter trial of a former police officer should be moved.
The Commercial Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2cYazA0 ) reports lawyers for Canyon Boykin, indicted this month in the 2015 shooting death of 26-year-old Ricky Ball, wrote in a Monday motion that Boykin can’t get a fair trial in the county, citing publicity and threats.
Boykin, who is white, said he fired his weapon while chasing after Ball last October because the African-American man appeared to point a gun at him.
Ball’s family disputed whether Boykin had cause to shoot. As with many other police killings of black people, protests arose in Columbus, a majority black city of 23,000.
“Officer Boykin’s case has been overly publicized — overwhelmingly in a false, negative light — in the media since the moment the shooting occurred,” the motion says. “There have been multiple community meetings, public demonstrations and marches and online petitions circulated to push for an indictment of Officer Boykin.”
Boykin has pleaded not guilty and is free on $20,000 bail.
The motion cites threats against Boykin, including someone who yelled “You killed my friend, you’re going to get what you deserve,” at Boykin in a supermarket parking lot. It also cites a Ball relative who took pictures of Boykin as Boykin “went about his private affairs.”
Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge and former Sheriff Wayne Beard both say in sworn statements they don’t believe Boykin can receive a fair trial in the county.
“My observation and professional opinion is that large sects of the population in Lowndes County have an opinion about this case without knowing the facts of what actually happened,” Arledge said in his statement.
The city fired Boykin as he was trying to resign after the shooting, saying he had broken department policy by not turning on his body camera, by inviting his then-fiancee to ride along without permission and by making derogatory social media posts about African-Americans, women and disabled people.
Boykin then sued, claiming the city violated his First Amendment rights by firing him over social media posts, and violated his due process rights by subjecting him to a biased hearing and knuckling under to “uninformed public pressure.”
Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com