TUPELO, Miss. — A civil lawsuit filed in the June 18 shooting death of Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert will move forward.
The Shumpert family filed the wrongful death suit against the City of Tupelo and police Officer Tyler Cook. It seeks at least $35 million in damages.
A grand jury declined in early August to indict Cook.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2eCu8SF) attorneys for city officials named in the suit and for Cook had sought to halt the civil proceedings until a review of the case by the U.S. Department of Justice was complete. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock denied those motions to stay the case in a ruling Tuesday.
“There is no indication that Cook will suffer substantial and irreparable prejudice by the parallel proceedings,” Aycock wrote. “Until a more concrete threat to the constitutional rights of Tyler Cook is obvious, a stay based on an assumed Department of Justice investigation will not be entertained.”
Meanwhile, the newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/2dZ8Zil) a local activist group is dissatisfied with the city’s efforts to build trust in the police department.
The Coalition of Concerned Pastors and Leaders specifically claims that six committees appointed by Mayor Jason Shelton’s administration have been insufficiently democratic.
The committees each studied a different issue or proposal, including some demands put forward by the CCPL. Most of the committees are either done meeting or almost done. Their findings are slated to be presented to the City Council later this month.
However, at a Monday press conference, the CCPL described the committees’ work as tainted.
“We are rather disappointed in how the city has allowed these six working groups to operate,” said James Hull, CCPL spokesman.
Each of the committees was composed of selected city government representatives, at least some City Council members as well as members of the public appointed by the mayor and City Council.
Hull said the CCPL believes there is inadequate grassroots representation on the committees.
“We feel that these groups are heavily weighted by city employees,” Hull said. “City employees are not really going to go far beyond what city leaders and city officials want to happen.”
CCPL members were appointed to some working groups, such as committees studying faith-based engagement and a community liaison position. However, none was appointed to the working group that studied a civilian advisory or review board.
The group has asked that at least one public forum be hosted to allow Tupelo citizens to provide input on the recommendations. Shelton said he’s considering the possibility.
“It will be looked at, but I’m not sure yet if it will happen,” Shelton said.
Three working groups are expected to present recommendations to the City Council during a work session Oct. 25.
This story has been corrected to correct spelling of judge’s last name.
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com