MOSS POINT, Miss. – An officer who was involved in a fatal shooting of a suspect is receiving death threats… and now he and his family are in fear for their lives.
It’s being called a textbook shooting. It’s even being used as a training scenario for how future police officers should handle a dangerous situation. But after ‘witness’ testimony and the spreading of rumors… it seems as though the public has already labeled the officer as a racist murderer who planted evidence before a proper investigation could begin.
Let’s dive in.
A Moss Point police officer was involved in a deadly shooting that took the life of Toussaint Diamon Sims at the beginning of August. Initial reports claimed that at 6:30 p.m. on August 8, officers received information that Sims, wanted on multiple felony warrants, was located at a nearby convenience store.
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. After crashing the vehicle and running on foot, officers saw that Sims was reportedly carrying a loaded gun and threatening their lives with it. The officer opened fire, fatally wounding Sims.
Seems pretty open and shut, right?
In the hours and days that followed, the officer was publicly labeled a racist, murdering cop who planted evidence in order to get away with killing Sims.
Jim Glennon of Calibre Press uses real life scenarios to teach members of law enforcement. He said that because of the spread of rumors and lack of public evidence, the officer lost any chance he had at a fair investigation.
“What we’ve seen here was a massive rush to judgement. Without any evidence whatsoever, this officer is being called a murderer,” Glennon said. “His right to due process was completely eliminated.”
We have a dangerous armed suspect fleeing in a vehicle and on foot that allegedly attempted to escape by any means necessary – including using a loaded gun against police. But on the other hand, we have eyewitness testimony that swears the suspect was unarmed and shot in the back while running away.
The family’s defense attorney, who has since stepped down from representing them, said he spoke with one of those witnesses who claimed to have seen the entire scenario play out.
“I received a message on Friday morning. Someone reached out to me from Moss Point. It was an eyewitness, so I spoke to her as soon as I woke up Friday morning around 7 a.m., and she told me she had witnessed the entire shooting, from the time the young man jumped out of the black vehicle and started running,” Attorney Carlos Moore said. “She saw him running, about to jump a fence and saw him shot in the back multiple times by the white cop. She said the young man had nothing in his hands, nothing that could be misconstrued as a weapon. Nothing was in his hands. He was running full speed from the cops, away from the cops.”
Moore said that he drove over 100 miles to interview witnesses.
“A lot of times you the cops’ words against nobody because there are no witnesses, but this was in broad daylight. People clearly saw what they saw, and they have come forward. One of the witnesses will speak with the media tomorrow during the press conference and tell what she saw, and I’m going to ask that the officer be immediately terminated based on the witness’s testimony.”
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When asked if he thought he was prematurely condemning the officer, Moore defended his statements.
“I decide on information based on evidence, and a lot of time it’s not video or audio. It is based on eyewitness testimony, and I made a judicial termination of the facts of who I believe is telling the truth. So in this instance, I am acting as an attorney, but I’m doing the same process. I have heard an eyewitness account of what happened. and I have not seen anything to dispute it, and based on that I believe, this boy was murdered.”
While that witness testimony seems damning for police, others say that’s not at all what happened.
— Betsy Brantner Smith (@sgtbetsysmith) August 12, 2019
The attorney for the officer in question has reviewed the body cam footage from the incident. He says it very clearly exonerates the officer’s actions.
Attorney Calvin Taylor said the video clearly shows suspect Toussaint Diamon Sims had a firearm capable firing dozens of rounds. He said that a loaded gun was found near Sims’ body and that people who had claimed to ‘witness’ the incident were wrong.
“The video makes it clear there were no witnesses,” Taylor said. “That’s why the video is so important . There are people that are providing information that may not be what they thought they saw.”
A Facebook live video even went out right after the fatal shots were fired as onlookers claimed to see Moss Point police planting evidence.
Glennon argues that there should be some kind of repercussion for supplying false testimony.
“Why are there no ramifications for people who can call someone a murderer without any evidence other than what they thought they saw? They publicly condemned this officer without a shred of real evidence.”
He says we need to wait for all of the facts to come out before a proper assessment of the situation can be made.
“Let’s wait for the facts,” Glennon said. “With the current news cycle and quick spread of misinformation, our officers don’t stand a chance. We need to wait and allow the investigators to properly do their jobs.”
Moss Point Mayor Mario King says he’s here to help “move forward.” He “understands the movements” like Black Lives Matter and Blues Lives Matter, but says he can’t comment on the investigation. pic.twitter.com/Jo53jwKA45
— Alyssa Newton (@AlyssaKNewton) August 12, 2019
After Sims led police on a chase in excess of 100mph and crashed into a ditch, he jumped from his car and began to flee on foot. The officers then drew their tasers “because he wants to apprehend Mr. Sims in a non-lethal situation,” Taylor said. It was only after Sims reached for a firearm in his waistband that officers dropped their stun guns and drew their service weapons.
“And you can see Mr. Sims on several occasions as he’s running, he’s turning back toward the position of the officer,” Taylor said, “and (my client) felt like he was attempting to shoot, and we know that the firearm was loaded and had a round in the chamber.”
So, we have a pursuit and a non-lethal attempt to apprehend the suspect before weapons were drawn. If you ask us, this officer followed his training to a T.
Why did Moore step down? He claims it was due to the fact that he was related to the family in the case, but it appears that he removed himself from the trial after viewing the body cam footage from the officer.
“This is my last press conference. I believe it’s in the best interest of the family to have an attorney that’s not related to them,” he said.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. District Attorney Myers-McIlrath released the following statement.
“I am confident the circumstances surrounding the death of Toussaint Sims are being thoroughly investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. While I understand this is a matter of public concern, the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct limit what information can be released.”
— Sun Herald (@sunherald) August 13, 2019
“I am truly saddened by the events that occurred involving the August 8, 2019, incident. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragic incident. We are asking for the media and the public’s assistance while this investigation proceeds.
It is extremely important that we do not make assumptions about what occurred based on preliminary and conflicting statements. We all want an investigation that is professional, thorough, timely, and credible.
I am confident that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Jackson County District Attorneys office will complete such an investigation. We will release names of the individuals involved when we can. At this time, no other information will come from the Moss Point Police Department.”
The officer’s name is being withheld until the case is presented to a Grand Jury.