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Insider sues Mississippi sheriff’s department for refusing to hand over public incident reports

Insider is investigating the deaths of five men who died in police custody or after confrontations with sheriff’s deputies over eight months.

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Insider has been attempting to find out what happened to the five men who died in Mississippi during altercations with, or while in the custody of, sheriff’s officers.

Only information about two of them has been made available to the public by the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.

On Monday, Insider filed a lawsuit for the unfinished incident reports.

After the Mississippi sheriff’s office continually declined to provide Insider with data pertaining to a number of men who passed away last year during altercations with, or while in the custody of, sheriff’s deputies, Insider filed a lawsuit on Monday.

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Insider has been requesting information from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office for the past five months on the deaths of Damien Cameron, Trevor McKinley, Cory Jackson, Robert Rushton, and Adam Coker over an eight-month period. Insider attempted to get public records, such as incident reports, pertaining to the five men’s deaths, but has only been successful in obtaining incident reports for two of them.

Insider is now requesting that the Rankin County Chancery Court “require RCSD to disclose the public records sought” and award Insider all costs and expenditures — including attorneys’ fees — for the failure to give over the remaining reports.

While Cameron, Jackson, and Coker died while in the care of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Deputies, Rushton and McKinley were shot to death after altercations with the deputies.

Four of the males who passed away following interactions with Rankin County sheriff officers were the subjects of incident reports, dispatch logs, and other legal records requests made by Insider on February 17. Separate requests were made for the fifth report.

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Insider received a reply a week later from Jason Dare, a lawyer with the RCSD, outlining the costs involved in supplying the records.

The money was made on March 2, but RCSD only issued one incident report—for Corey Jackson’s death while in custody—instead of the four reports that had been requested. Records for Coker, which had been separately sought, were also given.

According to the lawsuit, the RCSD asserted that the incident reports pertaining to the deaths of Cameron, McKinley, and Rushton were “exempt from production.”

Families of the deceased have encountered obstacles when trying to learn more about their loved ones.

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Grandmother of Trevor McKinley Charlene Quarles stated to Insider for a March report, “I want some answers. “Why wouldn’t someone tell you anything if everything was open and done in accordance with the law? After six months,”

His mother, Jackie McKinley, stated, “We don’t have a toxicology result, we don’t have any information at all. “We have received nothing from them. Even the release of his body to us was refused. We had to wait three weeks before we could do a funeral.”

Dare provided additional justification for the requests’ denial in his response to Insider’s letter asking the agency to reconsider.

Dare stated that the RCSD couldn’t release the reports until the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation had completed its investigation into the occurrences and/or at the “conclusion of any criminal processes” in an email sent to Insider on March 10.

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But according to the Mississippi Public Records Act, there is “no exception recognized,” as Insider’s attorney Paloma Wu stated in the case, that permits the RCSD to conceal incident reports.

“Because another agency, MBI, may or may not be looking into how the four men died while being held by RCSD, or as a result of their actions, RCSD is not permitted to withhold the records that have been sought. All arrests result in incident reports, which are essential public records that remain accessible even when an agency is looking into a related crime. Indeed, active criminal investigations are a necessary component of arrests, and the PRA makes it abundantly clear that incident reports do not lose their status as public documents as a result. Whether or not there is an ongoing investigation, they must be produced in response to a PRA request “Wu stated in the court case.

Rankin County was contacted by Insider for comment regarding the lawsuit’s filing, but Insider did not immediately get a response.

Archie Skiffer, a family friend of Damien Cameron, told Insider that “finding the truth more than anything has just been difficult” and that “Rankin County Sheriff’s department, in my opinion, they feel as though we’re not entitled to know the truth.” “Deal with what happened as it occurred. They won’t provide us with any information, and they keep blaming others.”

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