Brother and sister win in Moss Point police brutality case

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) –  A settlement was reached Thursday in the case of a brother and sister who claimed three Moss Point police officers pepper sprayed and beat them. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2008 on behalf of Otis Ashford and Dell Jones. Ashford and Jones said they'll receive a monetary payout, but more importantly the police department will have to make significant changes.
Dell Jones and her brother, Otis Ashford, are pleased they won their case. 
"The police department is to protect and serve you, not to beat you down," Jones said.
But the brother and sister still get horrible flashbacks of the night they said they were attacked after having words with Moss Point Police. 
"He reached across me grabbed Otis like this," Dell said as she demonstrated the attack. 
"He grabbed the taser and stuck it to my back and put a big burn mark on my back," Ashford said. 
"I was hollering, and screaming, and called to the police department. I said, help us, help us, please help us they are killing my brother," Dell said. 
After the ordeal the family members said they called on the ACLU for justice and that's just what they said they received. 
"You have the right to speak up," Dell said. 
Under the new settlement, Moss Point PD has agreed to review and change some polices and hold annual training session on conflict resolution, arrests, as well as search and seizure laws. Police officers will also take classes on how to appropriately use tasers.
Mississippi ACLU leaders want to point out that police brutality is not just a Moss Point problem, it is happening everywhere.
"We hear complaints on a regular basis from people who say they've been beaten by police," ACLU's legal director Bear Atwood said. 
The ACLU is working to end the violence.
"Hopefully, it will send a message to police departments across the state that it's time to step up to the plate, and look at their policies and look at their own practices," Atwood  said. 
As for Ashford and Jones, they said  they're learning to forgive the police and build back trust. 
"They were wrong for what they did to me, but God has given me strength to overcome that, so that is it," Otis Ashford said. 
Moss Point Police Chief Sheila Smallman released a statement to WLOX News about the settlement.  In it, the chief said, "I have zero tolerance to police brutality, harassment, or improper & unprofessional action by any of my officers.  I have always had an open door policy and want to know if any of my officers exhibit such behavior. These types of behaviors are not a reflection of the Moss Point Police Department." 

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