After two white men allegedly chased and shot at Black FedEx driver D’Monterrio Gibson in Lincoln County, Miss., last year, Brookhaven Police Chief Kenny Collins did not arrest the suspects due to concerns for officer safety, he said in previously unreported recorded comments.
The Mississippi Free Press obtained an audio recording of a full 49-minute conversation from the days after the alleged shooting. Other outlets have reported short snippets in which Collins railed against protesters and discussed the suspects’ history, but not on his explanation for why he did not arrest the suspects after the shooting.
The father-and-son duo, Brandon Case and Gregory Case, voluntarily turned themselves in over a week after the incident on Feb. 1, 2022.
“Why put my officers in danger when they come into you?” Collins said in the recording during the days after the shooting. He did not return repeated calls seeking comment for this story on Monday, Tuesday or today. A receptionist at the department declined to provide an email for the chief.
Gibson says he was delivering packages in the town’s Junior Trail neighborhood on Jan. 24, 2022, when father-son duo Gregory and Brandon Case allegedly assailed him. A FedEx manager traveled with him to the Brookhaven Police Station the next day, where he filed a police report, the Mississippi Free Press reported last year. The police report noted that the delivery van had multiple bullet holes, including in the back door, in the bumper and in three packages.
The Cases turned themselves in on Feb. 1, 2022, and police charged them with conspiracy and aggravated assault. The pair, who denied the allegations, posted bail the next day. They remained free until November 2022, when a grand jury indicted them for attempted murder, shooting at a motor vehicle and conspiracy. The Cases, who are now out on $500,000 bonds, are awaiting a criminal trial.
‘Set Your Ass Down And Let Them Come To You’
Mother Jones’ Samantha Michaels reported on portions of the recording in November 2022, including a 38-second snippet that activist Marquell Bridges posted on Facebook that month and another one-minute-30-second one that Mississippi Free Press freelance column writer Leo Carney shared on Twitter. In those previously reported sections of the tape, Collins described past alleged incidents with the Cases and separately railed against Black protesters, including Bridges.
On Friday, Carney gave this reporter a copy of the full 49-minute recording, which Bridges obtained from a source in the police department. Collins addressed issues surrounding Gibson’s case in the first 45 minutes.
“I (have) lost two officers, you get shot coming through the door,” he said, referring to the September 2018 shooting deaths of Brookhaven officers Zach Moak and James White, for which Marquis Flowers pleaded guilty in 2021. In the recording, Collins said that one of the Cases “called, wanted to turn himself in,” though he did not specify which one.
“If they’re coming to you, that’s wisdom, set your asses down let them come to you,” he said.
Gibson’s attorney, Carlos Moore, expressed skepticism over Collins’ explanation in the leaked recording during an interview with the Mississippi Free Press Monday.
“I don’t see how he would have thought someone who was voluntarily coming in would have been a danger to the officers to pick them up,” Moore said. “That doesn’t make sense. I think they were just playing favoritism.”
Throughout much of last year, Moore raised concern over the fact that “neither the city court judge nor justice court judge” signed warrants for the Cases’ arrests, even after Gibson signed affidavits alleging conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder. Officials issued warrants on those charges when the grand jury issued indictments last November.
In an interview with the Mississippi Free Press Monday, Gibson said he was puzzled over the reasons Collins gave in the recording for not arresting the Cases early on.
“Is that normal procedure that police should follow for every criminal? Or like, how does that work?” he said. “We just allow people to turn themselves in whenever they say they are going to come in whenever they commit a crime? I mean, it just sounds like an excuse to me if you want me to be completely honest.”
The date for the Cases’ trial has not been set.
Civil Suits Target Collins, Brookhaven Police
D’Monterrio Gibson is now seeking $5 million in damages as part of a civil lawsuit. On Jan. 20, he filed a federal complaint against FedEx, the City of Brookhaven, Police Chief Kenny Collins, and Brandon Case and Gregory Case.
The lawsuit before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi includes accusations of “intentional racial discrimination” against FedEx. In it, Gibson accused Collins of “civil assault and battery” and “civil obstruction of justice.” The lawsuit also accused the Cases of “civil assault and battery” and “general/gross negligence.” Gibson is accusing all defendants of “negligent/intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Last summer, former Brookhaven Police Department Sgt. LaToya Beacham filed a federal lawsuit for alleged wrongful termination, accusing Collins of demoting her after she refused to sign affidavits to arrest Black Lives Matter activists who protested in support of Gibson. The lawsuit accused the police chief of attempting to “punish members of Black Lives Matter for exercising their First Amendment speech.”
As with today’s story, Collins did not respond to this publication’s requests for comment on Beacham’s lawsuit late last year, nor on Gibson’s lawsuit in January or this story.