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Two Mississippi Ex-Police Officers Indicted for Assault of Black Man After One Was Already Charged for Shooting Death of Black Woman

Two Mississippi ex-police officers were indicted for the assault of a Black man who led them on a chase after he turned around to avoid a traffic checkpoint.

Former Laurel police officers Brice Gilbert and Christopher Wade Robertson were indicted by a Jasper County grand jury on an aggravated assault charge for the 2018 beating of James Barnett, as reported by The Laurel Leader and Call, District Attorney Matt Sullivan announced on Aug. 4.

Christopher Wade Robertson (left) and Bryce Gilbert (right) were indicted on a felony aggravated assault charge this week for the 2018 beating of James Barnett. (Photo: Jasper County Jail)

The incident occurred on May 16, 2018, on the side of a road in Jasper County, Mississippi. Barnett attracted the officers’ attention after he drove away to avoid going through a road block, reported WDAM. Robertson and Gilbert pursued Barnett for 20 miles before he gave up. Barnett was compliant when officers ordered him out of the vehicle and on the ground.

Barnett claimed the officers kicked him in the face several times and harassed him after he asked to be taken to a hospital.

Gilbert and Robertson were fired from the police department a day after the beating. The indictment stated the officers hit Barnett in his “head, face and/or upper body with a kick … and by other means.” The documents asserted Robertson and Gilbert demonstrated “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

James Barnett. (Photo: WDAM screenshot)

Barnett filed a lawsuit against the officers last year, and a settlement has been reached. Robertson is also facing a manslaughter charge for the November 2019 shooting death of Dominique Ann Henry. Robertson shot and killed Henry, a Black woman, on his property. He claims he shot Henry in self-defense because she stole his wife’s car and tried to run him over.

“The defendants are presumed innocent of these charges until proven guilty,” DA Sullivan said in a statement to McClatchy. “I am going to do my job and seek justice. We must all ensure that those affected are treated fairly under our laws.”

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