GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The family of the man who was killed last year in Moss Point while fleeing from cops has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging excessive force was used when the officer shot and killed him.
Toussaint Diamon Sims was shot on Aug. 8, 2019, while fleeing from officers in Moss Point. The shooting was deemed justified by a Jackson County grand jury.
On Thursday, Sim’s mother Keena Sims filed a lawsuit against the City of Moss Point, Moss Point Police Department, Police Chief Brandon Ashley, and the officer who fired the fatal shots, Lancen Shipman.
The complaint was filed in federal court on behalf of the victim’s children by lawyers with the Cochran Firm, who represents the family. It alleges that Officer Shipman used excessive and unnecessary force when he fired multiple rounds at Sims.
According to the complaint, Sims was parked at 3G’s Convenience Store not engaging in any criminal activity when Officer Shipman confronted him without warning.
Police said they were responding to a call that Sims, who had felony and misdemeanor warrants, was spotted at the gas station. After trying for 30 seconds to take him into custody, Sims drove away and a pursuit ensued that lasted four-and-half minutes, ending near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Second Street.
Sims then fled on foot, sprinting through the yard of a nearby home. Body cam video from a Moss Point officer shows him pursuing Sims on foot. Approximately 12 seconds after the foot chase began, Sims was shot and fell over a fence.
Moss Point Police have maintained since Sims died that he was carrying a gun and refused to stop or drop the weapon when officers ordered him to do so.
Body cam video also shows an officer approaching Sims’ body after the shooting and kicking what appears to be a firearm away from the victim.
According to the attorney who represents Officer Shipman, the weapon found next to Sims was a Taurus 9mm with an extended clip that was capable of firing 30 rounds of ammunition, and it was loaded.
While the complaint neither disputes nor acknowledges that Sims had a weapon on him at the time of the shooting, it does say he never made any threatening actions or movements towards the officer or anyone else, adding that he was trying to distance himself from the officer.
“Sims was actively running away from Defendant Shipman and posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury… made no aggressive movements, no furtive gestures and no physical movements” that would suggest that he meant harm to the officer or anyone else, said the complaint, adding that Sims was approximately 30-50 feet away from the officer when the fatal shots were fired.
The family also alleges that the city and the police department are liable for failing to train officers properly.
“Defendant Shipman received no training, or inadequate training, concerning the tactical advantages available to police officers engaging in foot pursuits of suspects, including the nationally recognized tactical training which instructs and directs officers engaging in foot pursuits to employ area containment, surveillance, and the utilization of additional departmental resources,” states the complaint.
Shipman fired multiple shots at Sims within 10 seconds of exiting his patrol car, said the lawsuit, adding that those 10 seconds could have been better used to utilize additional departmental resources to place time and distance between himself and the suspect had he been properly trained.
That lack of training, which was the responsibility of Police Chief Brandon Ashley as the department’s leader, increased the likelihood of an unnecessary and unwarranted use of lethal force against Sims, alleges the lawsuit.
Shipman made no effort to utilize additional resources before firing the shots at Sims, said the lawsuit and, although Shipman’s body camera was on, he did not turn the audio on during the pursuit.
In body cam video showing the pursuit and subsequent shooting, the audio is turned off until after the shots are fired. Authorities have said that’s because the officer did not have his microphone turned on.
The family also alleges that officers on the scene in the moments after Sims was shot denied immediate medical care to the victim “in a manner that demonstrated deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights.”
As a result, Sims suffered great mental and physical pain, suffering, anguish, fright, nervousness, anxiety, grief, shock, humiliation, indignity, apprehension, and loss of enjoyment of life before dying, states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit does not specify the monetary amount of damages requested, saying only that the family is asking a jury to grant them compensation for funeral and burial-related expenses, general and special damages to be determined by the jury, costs incurred since the shooting, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages against each defendant named in the lawsuit.
The defendants now have 30 days to file an answer to the complaint. To read the complaint in its entirety, click HERE.