‘A Modern Day Lynching:’ Mississippi Man Allegedly Shot by Officer, Maimed by Police Dog

Antwun Shumpert, 37, was fatally shot by a Tupelo Police Officer on June 18, 2016. RYAN JULISON

Antwun Shumpert, 37, was fatally shot by a Tupelo Police officer on June 18, 2016. RYAN JULISON

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is probing the disturbing circumstances surrounding a police shooting that left an unarmed Black man dead and disfigured by a K-9 dog.

Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert, 37, was pulled over by an officer for a routine traffic stop around 9:38 p.m. on June 18 when he suddenly exited his vehicle and ran, according to the Tupelo Police Department. The officer and his canine unit companion pursued Shumpert on foot and discovered him under a house in the Lee Acres neighborhood. Shumpert then emerged from hiding to attack the officer and was shot during the struggle, the City of Tupelo said in a press release.

The father of five died of injuries hours later at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

Members of the local NAACP joined municipal leaders for a media conference two days after the shooting, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports. During which, Tupelo officials provided preliminary details — including Shumpert’s outstanding felony arrest warrant. However, Mayor Jason Shelton did not tell reporters whether the suspect was armed or how many times he was shot, citing “ongoing investigations.” Tupelo-Lee County NAACP president Rev. Chris Traylor urged residents to withhold judgements and comments until investigations have completed.

An attorney representing Shumpert’s family held a press conference Monday to offer “new information” on the incident. Grenada lawyer Carlos Moore said eyewitness accounts obtained as part of his own investigations were inconsistent with officials’ claims that Shumpert instigated a tussle with the officer. Onlookers said the man was attempting to surrender to police voluntarily when the dog viciously attacked him in the groin. As he was trying to defend himself, spectators heard four shots, WTVA reports. Moore said the officer shot Shumpert three times in the chest and once in the abdomen.

During the conference, Moore displayed enlarged photos of Shumpert’s injuries. The graphic images showed a gaping wound on the victim’s testicles and deep lacerations across his body.

Moore also questioned the original motive for the traffic stop, as according to the attorney, Shumpert fled from the vehicle before the officer approached. Moore said the officer did not ask for identification and could not have known who he was chasing.

Moore condemned the department for failing to release the name of the officer involved, who has been placed on administrative leave while the MBI reviews the case.

“If the chief of police doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to fire the officer, then he should resign,” Moore said, per the Daily Journal. “We are giving the city 72 hours to respond.”

Moore said if the department refused, the team would call for the mayor’s resignation and file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

“We believe the officer just went berserk,” Moore said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It was a modern day lynching.”

Moore told the publication he was not aware of the officer’s reasons for releasing the K-9, noting that officers are permitted to use the dogs in searches for suspected felons.

“What we do know is that at the time that Mr. Shumpert was being chased, he was not a suspected felon,” Moore said. “They didn’t even know his name. It was a simple traffic stop.”

In addition, Moore said, he did not understand why the officer decided to shoot Shumpert after the animal had already apprehended the suspect and essentially rendered him defenseless.

“It whipped and mutilated and annihilated this man. He tore his body to shreds, basically,” Moore said. “It’s just horrible the way it was done.”

“Why are you then going to turn around and execute him in cold blood?” he added. “He could not have been a threat to anyone.”

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