Biloxi NAACP Demands Police Brutality Investigation - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/13/04

Biloxi NAACP Demands Police Brutality Investigation

Biloxi NAACP president James Crowell says security guards and police officers acted more like "thugs" during a scuffle outside the Bombay Bicycle Club in Biloxi late Saturday night.

The local civil rights organization held a news conference Friday to release more details and pictures from the weekend incident.

Crowell says four young black men were "brutally beaten" without cause.

The four alleged victims kept quiet at the news conference. But the NAACP leader had plenty to say. He calls the incident a "horrendous miscarriage of justice".

"These individuals took four young men, who walked in to have a night out, and changed it to a nightmare," said James Crowell, as he spoke at the news conference.

Flanked by the four, Crowell demanded an independent investigation. It all began when Ronald Jackson was physically removed from the club by security, with no explanation.

"He was taken outside. Handcuffed, choked and spit on by this group of thugs. He was injured from his feet to his head. His cousin and brother were also brutally beaten because they wanted to know why their relatives were being mistreated and beaten," said Crowell.

"One young black man had his hair or dread pulled from his skull. And then picked up and slammed down to the ground, breaking his glasses and causing the side of his face to be cut and bruised," said Crowell.

Biloxi police released a written statement.

It reads, in part, "Two investigations are now underway. One is a criminal investigation involving a felony assault on a police officer and the other is an internal investigation based on a complaint made by one of the persons arrested."

Plenty of questions remain about exactly what happened at the nightclub late Saturday. But the four men involved declined to answer any questions at the news conference, saying instead that any statements from them would have to come through their attorney's office in Santa Monica, California.

There was one other witness attending the news conference, but he wants to remain anonymous.

That witness defends James Lee, the man accused of assaulting a police officer. The witness says Lee fell into the officer when a security guard rushed him from behind. He also says police assaulted Lee after he was handcuffed.

"Another police officer came and had his knee in his head, while the first police officer was hitting him in the side," the young man recalled.

"This whole incident should have been handled a whole lot better," Crowell said.

All four men were treated and released from area hospitals Saturday night. All four also face some criminal charges, ranging from resisting arrest to simple assault to trespassing.

An attorney for Bombay Bicycle Club gave WLOX News a statement. Speaking for the business, Michael Cavanaugh told WLOX News, "We are aware there was some sort of altercation outside the club. It did not involve any employees of Bombay. We are prepared to cooperate fully with any investigation."

by Steve Phillips

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