Police chief says body cam video will be released in fatal shooting of Diamon Sims
The grand jury found no evidence of wrongdoing on the officer’s part.
MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - Moss Point Mayor Mario King opened Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting with a statement on the grand jury’s report that the officer who fatally shot Diamon Sims was justified in his actions.
The grand jury released its report Tuesday afternoon. Addressing city leaders and the public hours later, the mayor said it may be hard for some to understand but he is thankful for the process.
“It’s difficult but our community also stood up and stepped up and allowed the process to be ongoing and they waited on the results of the process," said King. "I’m thankful for that.”
After that statement, the board approved the purchase of 25 additional body cams to add to the ones already being used by Moss Point officers. King said he wants to be sure all officers are equipped with the technology and that it works properly.
Police Chief Brandon Ashley said Tuesday that the body cam footage from the fatal officer-involved shooting would be released, although he didn’t say when. Seeing that footage is something the Sims family has been asking for since the Aug. 8 death of 27-year-old Toussaint Diamon Sims.
The Jackson County Grand Jury returned a no-true bill in the shooting, which essentially says that there was not enough evidence presented to the grand jury to conclude that a crime had taken place. Instead, the grand jury report concluded that the officer was justified in his actions and did not commit any wrongdoing when he shot Sims.
According to the grand jury report, the jury was informed that Sims had six outstanding warrants - three of which were for felonies - and was fleeing from police when the shooting occurred. The report also states that Sims had a firearm with an extended magazine in his hands when the Moss Point officer fired the fatal shots.
“Based upon a thorough inquiry, the grand jury finds no criminal conduct on behalf of the Moss Point police officer involved in the shooting of Toussaint Diamon Sims," stated the report.
While it’s unclear if the grand jury saw the officer’s body cam footage, we do know that they heard from a total of 25 people who testified as witnesses.
“We were pretty confident going in," said attorney Calvin Taylor, who represented the officer involved in the shooting. "(The officer) told what happened. I assume they had a videotape. Whatever they wanted to see, I’m sure the DA’s office showed that to the grand jury. But what they saw, I don’t know.”
The jury found no evidence of wrongdoing on the officer’s part.
“As I have seen the video, I believe that is the only conclusion this grand jury or any grand jury could come to,” Taylor said.
Sims’ family and friends are now calling for the body cam footage to be released by the DA’s office. The family’s attorney Brian Dunn released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying:
The family of Diamon Sims is disappointed by the grand jury’s determination that the officer’s conduct did not rise to the level of criminal wrongdoing when he shot and killed him.
We will continue our pursuit of justice for the family which will include a civil lawsuit against the officer and Moss Point Police Department.
Now that the grand jury process has concluded, we are hopeful that the body camera video at the center of this case will be released to the public. The community deserves to see for themselves the clear evidence in this case.
Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley says the department “intends to coordinate the release of the body cam video with the family of Mr. Sims and the family’s attorney”.
I appreciate the community’s unyielding support for the Moss Point Police Department and of the patience displayed throughout the investigation. This is a tragic event for the family of Mr. Sims, Sergeant Shipman, and the City as a whole. I feel confident that the investigation led by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office was conducted thoroughly and professionally. I accept their findings and believe the facts of this case clearly proves the officer was acting within the law and in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Moss Point Police Department.
Shortly after the officer-involved shooting happened, the Moss Point Police Department put out a press release detailing what happened. The release stated around 6:30 p.m., officers received information that Sims, wanted on multiple warrants, was located at a convenience store in Pascagoula.
Officers of both the Pascagoula and Moss Point police departments attempted to arrest Sims at that location, but police said he fled in a vehicle, leading officers on a pursuit through Moss Point.
According to officers, the pursuit ended on 2nd Street when the suspect’s vehicle became disabled. Sims then fled from officers on foot. During the foot pursuit, police said Sims displayed a firearm in a threatening manner. His actions caused the pursuing officer to discharge his firearm, which fatally wounded Sims.
Following the announcement of the grand jury’s findings, Moss Point Mayor Mario King released the following statement:
Today, the Jackson County grand jury convened this week to consider the August 8, 2019 Moss Point police officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of Toussaint Diamon Sims. The grand jury returned a no true bill in this manner, clearing the officer of any criminal wrongdoing. I would like to thank the community for their patience and understanding in allowing this investigation to be concluded. Further, I would like to thank the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, and all other agencies involved, who played a part in the investigation of this tragic incident. The Grand Jury investigated the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, and concluded no further action is warranted.
I have heard in the past month from members of the community who are experiencing a great deal of emotion surrounding this incident, and I empathize with all that are impacted. Regardless of the circumstances, it is unfortunate when a life is lost, and no mother or father should have to bury their child. The outcome of this officer-involved shooting is never desired, and it is not an easy thing to process. I know that there are many different perceptions of these incidents and feelings are going to differ from anger to frustration and questions will still arise. Nevertheless, I urge our community to embrace a spirit of healing and begin to put our best foot forward by persevering in the face of adversity showing we can work together, support one another, and begin to uplift our youth.
Our country is plagued with the challenges concerning race and the way that we treat each other. As Mayor, I would like to commend the community I serve for their respect and responsible actions that carried us through this difficult time. In addition, I would like to thank the Moss Point Police Officers for their continued focus and ability to remain steadfast on our city’s mission, which is building a sustainable Moss Point through progressive leadership, fiscal transparency, and public safety while enhancing the quality of life through equity, economic growth, and diversity. I would like to extend my condolences once again to the family and all those impacted by this tragic event.
WLOX will continue to learn more details about this investigation and will provide new information as it becomes available.
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