JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Three veteran police officers have been indicted on second-degree murder charges in the death of George Robinson in January of 2019.
The indictments accuse the officers of using physical force, which resulted in Robinson’s death.
The indictments state the officers either participated or assisted in physically removing Robinson from his vehicle, body-slamming him on his head, as well as striking and kicking him multiple times in the head and chest.
The indictments say these acts were “eminently dangerous” to Robinson and violated Section 97-3-19(l)(b), Mississippi Code Annotated (1972, as amended).
Desmond Barney and Lincoln Lampley were both given $100,000 bond but Anthony Fox was placed in Judge Adrienne Wooten’s courtroom where he was given a $250,000 bond. All three posted bond Thursday.
“This is something that should have never been indicted, and every police officer that works particularly in Jackson and in this county could find themselves in this position,” said Francis Springer, one of the attorneys for the trio.
Robinson died two days after contact with police during a manhunt for a murder suspect in January. He was pulled out of his car for noncompliance after police saw what they thought was a drug transaction. When he wouldn’t show his hands, which were down between the seats, he was put on the ground and handcuffed.
Initial reports alleged the officers had beaten him, though law enforcement accounts differ. Robinson stayed on the scene after being released from custody for around an hour afterward before heading home to the Mustang Motel, witnesses told authorities.
Surveillance video from the Mustang Motel shows Robinson going into his room that night and several people going in and out throughout the evening. Later that night he was hospitalized for a medical condition, and he died two days later.
Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart ruled the death a homicide by blunt force trauma. Jackson Police Department’s Internal Affairs found no evidence of wrongdoing, nor did the FBI find any evidence of civil rights violations. The city’s civil service commission also cleared the officers to go back to duty.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba issued a statement on the indictments on Thursday night.
“Our administration is committed to ensuring that Jacksonians have an accountable police department. As part of our accountability process, the City of Jackson has implemented a policy to turn all cases involving officer involved deaths over to the DA for review by a grand jury,” he said. “The Hinds County grand jury indictments, issued today, begin another phase of the process. In the full spirit of transparency, the administration will continue to monitor the situation and provide information to the public throughout each phase. We ask that you keep all those affected by this tragedy the in your prayers.”
The family of George Robinson also released this statement:
Springer says if the case goes to trial, the evidence will show that not only are the officers not guilty, but that there is no evidence against them.
“Investigations are needed. But they need to be unbiased, they need to be respective of all the facts, and they need to be carried forth like that,” he said. “Our facts are going to prove that these officers did no wrong. They did their job and exactly their job and it went south from there.”
Springer said he’d like to release the information they do have, but he’s bound by the rules of professional ethics not to do that, although other attorneys do sometimes.
“The people of Jackson should definitely pay attention to this case, and just insure that justice is done for Jackson and Hinds County,” Springer said.
At 1 p.m., in time for the bond hearing that didn’t happen, officers, deputies and agents were there from several agencies, including Clinton Police Department where Fox and Barney currently work. They said they turned out to show their support for Barney, Fox, and Lampley.
The families of the officers say the entire situation has been a hellish ride. Strangers prior to this, now they draw strength from their faith and from each other.
“I can honestly say that we’re all family, and, if nothing else, this unfortunate situation has drawn three families together. For that we are eternally grateful,” said Mary Fox, Anthony Fox’s mother.