8.24.2011

James Anderson beaten, ran over and killed by Whites; Alleged Mississippi hate crime case headed to grand jury

by Jesse Muhammad for The Final Call

A Mississippi district attorney says he intends to pursue murder and hate crime indictments against two White suspects in the homicide death of a Black male, who was allegedly ran over earlier this summer by a pickup truck.

“Our presentation before a grand jury may be in a couple months or less. We intend to prove to the grand jury that the suspects intentionally sought out a Black person to mess with that day and that this was a murder and a hate crime,” Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County district attorney, told The Final Call in a phone interview on Aug. 12.

“This case is on-going so it's possible that evidence will show that there may have been other suspects involved in this crime,” said Mr. Smith. “The family is devastated. We're working to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the end of August,” Winston Thompson III, a lawyer from the Cochran Firm that's representing the victim's family, told The Final Call.

According to Mr. Thompson, a former asst. district attorney, the family has yet to speak out publicly regarding the case due to personal matters being handled. “But soon the sister of the victim may be delivering a statement to the press on behalf of the family. It is really hard on them right now,” he said. 

According to Mr. Smith, James Anderson was standing near his vehicle in a motel parking lot off the Interstate in Jackson, Miss. on June 26 around 5a.m. Two carloads of White teenagers allegedly had left an all-night party a few miles away in pursuit of a Black person to harass. Once they exited the interstate, they spotted Mr. Anderson and allegedly brutally beat him up.

One of the vehicles reportedly fled the scene and Mr. Anderson was limping alongside the parking lot. The other vehicle, a Ford truck, was accelerated in the direction of Mr. Anderson and struck him head on. Mr. Anderson was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Prior to his death, he was an assembly line worker at a nearby Nissan automotive plant.

“I believe this is in some way a microcosm of a larger problem in our communities throughout Mississippi,” said Mr. Smith, who is the first Black male DA in that county and is completing his first term.

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Click here to view the CNN Graphic Video of the alleged murder