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George Robinson’s Family Gets $17,786 In Settlement Over Death That Followed JPD Encounter

The City of Jackson will pay $17,786.25 to the family of George Robinson, a 62-year-old man who died days after a Jan. 13, 2019, encounter with three JPD officers. Robinson's mother, Vernice Robinson (left), and sister, Bettersten Wade (right), are pictured at a Jan. 24, 2019, press conference where they demanded accountability for the officers involved. Photo by Ashton Pittman, file

Update: George Robinson’s family rejected the $17,786.25 settlement offer. Read more here.

JACKSON, Miss.—The family of George Robinson, who died in 2019 following an encounter with three Jackson police officers, will receive a $17,786.25 payment after the Jackson City Council unanimously approved it to settle a civil lawsuit.

On Jan. 13, 2019, three officers were searching the Washington Addition neighborhood for a suspect related to the shooting death of Pastor Anthony Longino.

The officers spotted the 62-year-old Robinson, who was not a suspect in that crime, sitting in a vehicle and pulled him from the car and beat him, witnesses said at the time. Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart ruled Robinson’s death a homicide and noted in her autopsy report that there were signs of blunt-force trauma to Robinson’s head.

Though the council’s vote was unanimous, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes told WLBT on April 23, 2024, that he believed the financial settlement should have been more. “I’m saying it just sends the wrong message about human life, especially Black people’s lives,” Stokes said. “I think a step in the right direction would’ve been to pay the family a little bit more. Some people not going to support the idea of how much was made, others might, but a lot of people going to have a bad taste in their mouth.”

Officer Took New Policing Job After Conviction Overturned

George Robinson’s sister, Bettersten Wade, said at the time that just weeks before his death, he had suffered from a stroke on Christmas day. “He was still recovering,” she said at a press conference on Jan. 24, 2019.

“I feel that the officers that was involved in this, they should be just like any other citizen: They should be in jail, because they brutalized my brother,” she said at the time.

George Robinson in red hat
George Robinson died following an encounter with three Jackson, Miss., police officers on Jan. 13, 2019. Witnesses said at the time that they saw the officers pull Robinson out of his vehicle and beat the 62-year-old man who died days later. Photo courtesy Kimberly Sweet

A grand jury indicted the three officers—Anthony Fox, Lincoln Lampley and Desmond Barney—in 2020 for charges related to Robinson’s death including second-degree murder. However, Hinds County Judge Faye Peterson dismissed the charges against Lampley and Barney on May 20, 2021, citing a lack of proof that the officers “were conspiring to commit an unlawful act against Mr. Robinson.”

A jury convicted Fox in August 2022 for culpable negligent homicide in Robinson’s death. On Jan. 30, 2024, the Mississippi Court of Appeals decided in a 5-4 decision to overturn that conviction.

“Based on the credible evidence presented at trial, no evidence establishes that Fox acted in a grossly negligent manner or that the victim’s death from minor abrasions was reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances,” Mississippi Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes wrote in her majority opinion on the decision.

Fox was released from prison on Feb. 7, 2024, and accepted a new position with the Clinton Police Department.

Family Suffered Two Losses

Years after her brother’s death, Bettersten Wade suffered another loss when her son, Dexter Wade, died after an off-duty JPD officer in a cruiser struck him as he was crossing an interstate highway, NBC News first reported on Oct. 25, 2023.

The 37-year-old man was attempting to cross Interstate 55 when the officer struck and killed him on March 5, 2023. His mother reported him missing that same month and pleaded on social media for any leads that would help her find him.

Despite reports that Dexter Wade had an ID on him when his initial autopsy was done, no one made the connection between the man who’d been struck and killed on the interstate and Wade’s missing person’s report.

Dexter Wade’s mother and uncle places flower on casket
Dexter Wade’s family laid him to rest a final time in the Cedarwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Jackson, Miss., on Nov. 20, 2023. An off-duty police officer driving an SUV struck and killed him in March 2023. The Jackson Police Department did not notify the family until August—after the county had already buried him in an unmarked grave. Wade’s mother, Bettersten Wade, front right, is seen here as family members placed flowers and mementos on his casket. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

When no law-enforcement officer or officials with the Hinds County Coroner’s Office successfully made contact with Bettersten Wade to notify her of his death, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors approved him for a pauper’s burial at the Hinds County Penal Farm in Raymond, Miss.

A JPD investigator would finally inform Wade in August 2023 of her son’s death and that the county had buried his remains weeks earlier. Officials have not named the officer who struck Dexter Wade.

On Oct. 27, 2023, Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said his office’s review did not find “any police misconduct in this process or that there was any malicious intent,” but instead attributed the failures to “a lack of communication with the missing person’s division, the coroner’s office and accident investigation.”

Wade said on Oct. 30, 2023, that she wondered if Anthony Fox’s August 2022 conviction for George Robinson’s death and the family’s subsequent civil lawsuit led officials to neglect to inform her about what happened to her son.

How could you not say this is a vendetta? I put in a missing person’s report. There’s my address; there’s my phone number. How could they not put all that together?” Wade said. The county exhumed her son’s body and the family held a funeral and reburied him in November 2023.

Since Dexter Wade’s death, six other families have spoken to NBC News alleging that the county also buried their loved ones at the pauper’s cemetery without informing them. Since Bettersten Wade came forward about her son’s death, both the Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Coroner’s Office have released new death-notification policies.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on April 4, 2024, that it will provide both agencies with technical assistance to improve their death-notification policies, including training to locate next-of-kin.

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