JACKSON, Miss. – Grand jurors on Monday cleared a northeast Mississippi police officer of wrongdoing in a June 18 shooting that left a man dead.
District Attorney John Weddle told reporters that a Lee County grand jury declined to indict Tupelo Officer Tyler Cook in the shooting of Antwun "Ronnie" Shumpert. An autopsy found Shumpert, who died at a hospital, was shot four times.
"The grand jury found Officer Tyler Cook acted lawfully and has cleared Officer Cook of any wrongdoing," Weddle said.
Cook is white. Shumpert was black.
Shumpert's family members have said the shooting was unjustified, seeking $35 million in damages in a federal lawsuit against the city. They've also called for a federal civil rights investigation into Shumpert's death and the broader practices of the Tupelo Police Department.
"While we are incredibly disappointed that the officer who killed Antwun 'Ronnie' Shumpert will not be charged with a crime by the state of Mississippi, we will continue to monitor the investigations currently being conducted by the FBI and Department of Justice," said Carlos Moore, a lawyer for Shumpert's family.
Hundreds of people seeking changes in the city's police department protested Saturday in Tupelo.
Weddle refuted claims by Shumpert's family and their attorney that Shumpert had suffered improper violence at the hands of Cook and a police dog.
"There are no wounds described in the autopsy that are consistent with a dog bite," Weddle said in a news conference at the Lee County Justice Center.
Weddle said physical evidence showed Shumpert was shot four times at close range, consistent with Cook's version of events that Shumpert had emerged from under a house and attacked the officer, leading Cook to shoot Shumpert when the officer feared for his life.
Weddle also refuted claims that Shumpert had been bitten in the groin by Cook's police dog, saying that was a gunshot wound. He also said cuts on Shumpert's back came from efforts to remove the bullets and were not seen in pictures taken at the scene.
Finally, he refuted Moore's claims that he had found an eyewitness who had recorded video, saying the woman in question was held by a police officer near the scene of the original traffic stop and could not have seen the altercation in the backyard of a house.
The version of events compiled by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and recited by Weddle mirrors an account given last month by Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.
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