JACKSON, Miss.—An attorney for D’Monterrio Gibson, the FedEx driver who narrowly escaped a shooting on his route in Brookhaven, Miss., earlier this year, has alleged that the Brookhaven Police Department delayed the release of critical documents allowing for the upgraded charges against two Brookhaven men and failed to properly investigate the crime.
Carlos Moore, managing partner at The Cochran Firm’s Mississippi Delta office and Gibson’s attorney, spoke to the media in a Nov. 21 press event outside the Hinds County Courthouse. There, he told the Mississippi Free Press that conversations with the Lincoln County district attorney revealed a slow walk to a just investigation for his client.
“We believe that there was a delay on the part of the Brookhaven Police Department,” Moore said, stating that the Lincoln County district attorney waited for months for case files from the Brookhaven police that would eventually allow a grand jury to indict Gregory Case and Brandon Case for the attempted murder of D’Monterrio Gibson.
“We believe that the investigation was shoddy,” Moore said. “It was dilatory. But at some point they had to face the piper. At some point, the police department did turn over the file to Lincoln County District Attorney Dee Bates. And once he received the file from the police department, he presented it to the grand jury as soon as he could, from what he tells me.”
That grand jury returned indictments for the father and son last Friday. The two men are charged with attempted murder, shooting at a motor vehicle and conspiracy. Both men had bonds set at $500,000, and both bonded out immediately upon their arrest.
‘Had Gibson Been White’
The new charges come many months after the initial shooting in late January and the first charges against Gregory Case and Brandon Case. Initially, Brookhaven police charged son Brandon with aggravated assault, and his father Gregory with conspiracy.
“We asked for the charges to be upgraded, I believe, in April,” Moore said. Gibson himself signed an affidavit alleging that the Cases attempted to murder him. But still, “we had to wait until November for the grand jury to hear the evidence to upgrade the charges.”
“On a typical timeline,” he continued, “you’d have indictments secured in March or April. You would’ve been at trial by now. Here we are nearly 10 months later. … (District Attorney Dee Bates) believes that the earliest this case may be set for trial is May of next year, and it possibly won’t be tried until August 2023.”
Attorney Moore said the lengthy wait for upgraded charges would not have happened if Gibson had been white. “Had Gibson been a white driver and had the Cases been Black … that grand jury would’ve met way before now. That indictment could have been secured this Spring,” he said.
While speaking with the media, Moore leveled accusations that the Brookhaven Police Department had insufficiently investigated the shooting.
“You will learn that they took Mr. Gibson out to the scene the next day to help them look for (bullet) casings. You’ll learn that the gun that was used to shoot his vehicle has not been recovered. You will learn that the Ring video systems in the neighborhood were not immediately looked at and recovered,” Moore said.
A Suspect, Not A Victim
D’Monterrio Gibson and his mother, Sharon McClendon, attended the press conference, with a representative from the New Black Panther Party at their side. Gibson spoke briefly, visibly sorrowful, lamenting the long months between the shooting and the final charges.
“It was an extremely long process to get this far,” Gibson said. “I feel like most of the time I was treated like a suspect rather than the victim. It was an extremely hard process. I’m kind of happy that we’re finally making progress, but it’s always more work to be done. That’s really all that I have to say about it.”
Gibson’s mother followed his comments, cautiously celebrating the grand jury’s decision. “This is the first step in the right direction. But the biggest step is getting (Gregory and Brandon Case) convicted,” McClendon said. “I’m finally glad that they gave us some type of relief … my son, our friends, our whole family has been through a lot trying to get this case solved.”
The danger of the January incident has yet to fade for Gibson. In addition to anxiety he attributes to the experience, Gibson also shared the details of a death threat he says he received after news of the shooting went viral.
At the meeting of a white-supremacist group based in Louisiana, an individual “was saying all kinds of racist rants and how they need to get the race war going,” explained a warning letter to Gibson. “He was telling (the people) that he wants to personally kill (D’Monterrio) Gibson and said he won’t miss this time like the other person did.”
The FBI informed Gibson that they would investigate the threat.
Brookhaven Police Chief Sued
Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins is mired in controversy after a former Brookhaven Police Department detective filed a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination.
Sgt. LaToya Beacham is suing the City of Brookhaven and Collins in particular for allegedly demoting her after she refused to sign affidavits for the arrest of several Black Lives Matter protesters who gathered in support of Gibson.
Beacham’s lawsuit accused Collins of looking to “punish members of Black Lives Matter for exercising their First Amendment speech,” the Brookhaven Daily Leader reported in August.
Just this month, leaked audio of Collins showed the police chief fantasizing about assaulting Black Lives Matter protester Marquell Bridges during a demonstration in Brookhaven earlier this year. “I thought about f*cking him up right then,” Collins said on the recording. “I sat there and looked at that f*cking Marquell Bridges. I thought about putting my left foot at the right side of his ass.”
Additionally, both Beacham’s lawsuit and Moore claim that Assistant Police Chief Chris Case is a relative of Gregory Case and Brandon Case, which is a long-time family name in the area, including in law enforcement. Moore stated this week that his investigation found a familial link between the Cases, something that Chief Collins has vocally denied.
“There’s no relation,” Collins told WLBT News. “We’ve gone down the whole family tree to make sure that we’re truthful. My Assistant Chief Chris Case is kin to a totally different set of Cases.”
Neither Chief Kenneth Collins nor District Attorney Dee Bates returned Mississippi Free Press requests for comment.