TUPELO, Miss. – Prosecutors plan to call a special grand jury to hear evidence in the shooting last month of a black man by a white Tupelo police officer.
District Attorney John Weddle tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/29EgBoA ) that he hopes he will be able to present the case involving the fatal shooting of Antwun "Ronnie" Shumpert to a grand jury before September, which is when the next panel is expected to convene.
Shumpert ran from police during a June 18 traffic stop. After an altercation with Officer Tyler Cook and a K-9 unit, Shumpert was shot four times and died the next day.
Weddle said Thursday that he would look at calling a special grand jury before September if the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation finishes its investigation before early August.
MBI spokesman Warren Strain said the Shumpert case, along with a separate June 11 officer-involved fatal shooting, are ongoing and progressing.
"It just takes time to get test results that will be compiled and incorporated into the case file," Strain said. "Every case is different, so it is impossible to say how long the process will take to complete."
If the state investigation is wrapped before Aug. 8, Weddle could call a special grand jury to decide if Cook should be charged criminally.
"If we can fit it in, we will," Weddle said. "It's difficult to have both a regular court term and a grand jury. Not only are you using the same building, but staff would be stretched very thin."
Grenada attorney Carlos Moore, who is representing the Shumpert family in a $35 million federal civil rights lawsuit, has said he would prefer a special prosecutor be brought in to present the case to the grand jury "to avoid the appearance of impropriety."
Weddle said he plans on presenting the Shumpert case to the grand jury himself.
"The decision is difficult and done on a case-by-case basis," Weddle said. "I feel confident we can present this case.
"We have an independent agency handling the investigation, and they will be presenting the evidence. We might ask them a few questions to get started, but they will take it and run with it."
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com