OXFORD, Miss. (CN) – Police officers killed an unarmed man after he missed a court appearance, and his bail bondsman, who sent the cops to his house, also happens to be the city’s mayor, the dead man’s mother claims in Federal Court.
Deborah Ray, mother of decedent Justin Smith, said at no time during the incidents described in the complaint was the use of deadly force justified. She seeks monetary damages.
Ray said Columbus, Miss. Mayor Robert Smith showed up at her home on Jan. 28, 2008 unannounced and without a search warrant, in the company of seven police officers.
The group was looking for her son, who had failed to show up to answer a criminal charge three years earlier, Ray’s complaint states.
Ray says she initially resisted demands to allow the group into her home, until the mayor told her he “would not be responsible for what happened” if she did not comply.
Out of fear for her safety and that of her children, Ray allowed an illegal search by two officers, which turned up nothing, the complaint states.
Three days later, she says, two officers returned to her home, and shot her unarmed son to death. “Defendant Smith had a financial interest in Justin Smith’s arrest as he owned the bond company that insured Justin Smith’s bond,” the mom says.
Ray says the killing violated the Fourth Amendment and was an excessive use of force.
She claims the mayor knew or should have known that the city police officers were prone to violating citizens’ constitutional rights, failed to supervise or discipline them, and encouraged them to engage in this illegal conduct.
Ray is represented by Reagan Wise of Webb, Sanders & Williams in Tupelo, Miss.