On May 24, 2023, authorities in Jackson, Mississippi announced that three former police officers were indicted by a grand jury in connection with the death of a Black man in their custody on Dec. 31, 2022. The man was Keith Murriel, and the three former officers, James Land, Avery Willis, and Kenya McCarty, were indicted on May 12, 2023, of tackling him and tasering him for more than 10 minutes. The encounter was reportedly captured on since-released body-camera footage that documented the encounter, which lasted more than an hour. They were allegedly trying to arrest Murriel for trespassing at a hotel and had asked him to leave when they began their alleged onslaught.
The trio were able to get handcuffs on Murriel before putting him down horizontally on the back of their police vehicle. The video indicates that it then took them 17 minutes to get the man into the car, during which time they repeatedly stun-gunned him. After the struggle the video is choppy and unclear, making their actions uncertain for the next 43 minutes, before the first round of body camera footage ended. What is discernable from the first batch of footage is that the trio spent those 43 minutes in part cracking jokes about his health while he was noticeably unconscious in the vehicle. Willis, who is Black, for instance, could be heard on the recording saying it was funny until it was annoying to watch his “feet in the air.” He also used a racial slur to refer to Murriel. He could also be heard wondering when they should call the medics. He could also be heard saying that he hoped Murriel was asleep because it would make for a “good ride” if he was. Paramedics didn’t get to Murriel until 12 minutes into the next video from Willis’s camera. They noted that Murriel wasn’t breathing.
McCarty, who is also Black, allegedly claimed that Murriel was “on something,” despite there so far being no clear evidence that he had any sort of illicit substance in his system. Murriel was soon taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, and Willis allegedly claimed that the man had “choked on his own vomit.” McCarty was placed on administrative leave in Feb. 2023, and Willis and Land, who are white, joined her in April 2023. One of them was charged with manslaughter while the other two received murder charges.
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