MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - Moss Point’s mayor is calling for the public to be patient and allow the family affected by Thursday’s fatal officer-involved shooting to grieve their loved one.
Mayor Mario King addressed the city Monday morning at city hall, saying his heart goes out to the family of Toussaint Diamon Sims, who died Thursday after being shot by a Moss Point police officer.
“I am not at liberty to comment on that incident but what I will say is I understand the racial tensions in our country. I understand the movements like Black Lives Matter. I understand the movements like Blue Lives Matter but I also have a foundation that I have to protect," said King. "I have a family that I know is hurting. I have a mother that I had to visit that lost a son. And I want us to remember lawyers on both sides, agencies, friends, families, community members, be respectful. Understand that this family has lost a loved one. I will not tolerate any foolishness as it relates to this family. Allow this family the time to grieve.”
The mayor went on to say the right now, his main concern was the Sims family and helping them to navigate through their grief.
“I want everybody again to just be focused and understand that I am no fool...I understand everything that is going on in our country but our main concern and my priority today is the Sims family - to make sure they feel good, to make sure they can move on, to make sure they have an investigation without interference from either side of attorneys.”
“My heart goes out to this family because I’m a 32-year-old African American black man and I understand what it feels like to not only hear about it but to experience this and experience such stupidity that I see in the media is not fair to them. So I ask you to back off, step back, and give this family some time and space to grieve.”
Since Thursday, much speculation has surrounded the actions of the officer, with Sims’ family calling on authorities to release body cam video proving it was justified. Limited details have been released by authorities as state law enforcement agents continue to investigate the shooting.
However, both Sims’ cousin Carlos Moore - who is representing the family - and the officer’s attorney Calvin Taylor have released information supporting each of their client’s claims. According to Moore, multiple eyewitnesses at the scene said Sims was unarmed and running away from the officer when he was shot five times in the back. Taylor, however, said he has seen the body cam video and that it clearly shows a weapon in Sims’ possession.
On Sunday, Moore called on community members to rally in support of the Sims family, encouraging them to show up at city hall Monday for an “old-fashioned sit-in” until the board of aldermen agreed to hold a special-call meeting. Moore demanded city officials fire the officer and police chief Brandon Ashley.
King said he would not be a part of a special call meeting and reminded citizens that they have a right to be in city hall.
“As to the citizens of Moss Point, you have a right to come in your city hall,” he said. “There has not been one violent protester. There has not been one outburst in our city hall. This family is simply seeking justice. They are safe. They are nice people, good people, and they’re just here for their child."
“I can’t comment on a special call meeting. We do have one signature for a special call meeting as it relates to the police department. However, I will not be calling a special call meeting as I have no authority to make any decisions as it relates to hiring, firing, or any other practices.”
That speculation has led to much discussion throughout South Mississippi, with comments filling social media pages with some in support of the officer and others in support of Sims. During his news conference, Mayor King asked that people please respect the process.
“When one of our officers is involved in a shooting, everything comes from an outside agency,” said the mayor. “Moss Point is simply the defendant in this case and we will cooperate with any and all investigations that is led towards our way.”
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is the agency investigating the shooting. As of Monday, they have not released any additional information about this case. Multiple officials in Jackson County - including Police Chief Brandon Ashley, District Attorney Angel Myers-McIlrath, and others - have released statements saying that the investigation has been thorough and will according to the proper procedure.