MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - As family members and residents in the community demand answers following Thursday’s fatal shooting of Toussain Diamon Sims, the lawyer representing the police officer accused of firing the shots says he has seen the body cam video and the shooting was justified.
Attorney Calvin Taylor spoke with WLOX on Sunday, saying that the officer followed proper procedure in the shooting of Sims, who was fleeing from police when he was shot.
A taser was initially pulled out by the officer, said Taylor.
“When (the officer) saw what he believed was a TEK-9 firearm in (Sims') hands, you can see (the officer) transition the taser from in the right hand to the left hand and that’s when he engages and actually shoots,” Taylor said of the body cam video he watched Friday. Taylor said the video also clearly shows a weapon next to Sims’ body.
Despite reports from the family saying that Sims was not armed, Taylor said that is untrue. The attorney said the weapon found next to Sims was actually a Taurus 9mm with an extended clip that was capable of firing 30 rounds of ammunition. The gun’s chamber was loaded, said Taylor.
As the officer’s attorney, Taylor said he was given access to all the evidence, including the body cam footage.
“This officer gets out with a taser because he knows (Sims') reputation and he wants to apprehend him; that’s all he wants to do," said the attorney. “(The officer) had to transition from the his taser to his firearm. He walks up and you can clearly see the Taurus firearm next to (Sims’) body.”
The family is now demanding authorities to release that body cam footage to the public or, at the least, show it to Sims’ family members.
“Let us see it. If it’s out there, show it," said Carlos Moore, the Sims’ family attorney. "The family will accept whatever is on that camera. The body camera footage will be the best evidence. So, if they have it we are ready to see it - tonight, tomorrow, whenever. We want to see it, the family and the attorney, and we can release it to the public and that can solve everything.”
Emotions ran high as Sims’ family, friends, and community members gathered Sunday to demand justice. Attorney Carlos Moore, who is also Sims’ cousin, held a press conference at the Second Street Park and Pavilion calling for the termination and prosecution of the officer involved.
In a press conference Sunday, Moore - who is also Sims’ cousin - said he has been conducting his own investigation into the fatal shooting.
“I have interviewed 14 witnesses and seven of them were eyewitnesses to the shooting and each of them tell me that Diamon was not armed at the time he was shot. He never brandished a gun, he never had anything in his arm...or his hands as he was running," said Moore. "He was running full speed from the cops. He jumped one fence and before he could jump another, he was shot in the back four to five times.”
The family of Sims is now demanding justice, calling for the resignation of the police officer and of the police chief. Thus far, the officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure anytime there is an officer-involved shooting.
According to Moss Point Police Department, Sims was wanted on multiple felony warrants. Authorities located him in Pascagoula, but police said he fled in a vehicle, leading officers on a pursuit through Moss Point. The pursuit ended on 2nd Street when the suspect’s vehicle became disabled.
Sims then fled from officers on foot, said police. A release from Police Chief Brandon Ashley said during that foot pursuit, Sims displayed a firearm in a threatening manner, causing the pursuing officer to discharge his firearm.
Taylor said he supports Sims’ family getting access to the body camera footage. “It’s my hope by the family demanding and by my release of the information… that MBI or somebody with official authority will come out and say, 'This is what the body cam shows.’”
Keena Sims, mother of the victim, also spoke at the press conference, saying she was not allowed to see her son after he was shot and was not the one to identify his body to the coroner’s office.
“I have not identified my child, but for me to see him on the news...his name flash and all I done seen is a tennis shoe and to be denied rights to my child... I still ain’t heard what he did (to be shot) five times in the back. My child could be your child, (it could be) anybody’s child."
Jackson County Deputy Coroner Carol Anne Fagan told WLOX News Now on Sunday that the body was identified by law enforcement, and that “in forensic cases such as this, we have to make sure to preserve as much evidence as possible for the autopsy." The autopsy is scheduled for Monday in Jackson.
Moore said he is planning a protest at Moss Point City Hall Monday afternoon to call for the termination of the officer and for the city to release the body camera footage of the incident. He is also planning another press conference for 4 p.m. Monday.
District Attorney Angel Myers McIlrath said in a statement Sunday, “While I understand this is a matter of public concern, the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct limit what information can be released, at this time, pertaining to the ongoing investigation. Specifically, Rule 3.6 prohibits me or my office from communicating to the public certain information, including but not limited to, evidence expected to be presented in ongoing proceedings.”
Mayor Mario King would not comment on whether he watched the news conference tonight or act on what Carlos Moore demanded, firing the officer, Chief Brandon Ashley or call the Board of Aldermen into an emergency meeting. King told WLOX News he will be making a full statement Monday before noon.