August 10, 2020

Mississippi police shot, killed man running from them; now his family is suing

The family of a Black man who was shot and killed while running away from police in Mississippi has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department, the city and the officer cleared in the shooting.

The federal suit related to the death of Toussaint Diamon Sims, 27, was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on behalf of Sims’ mother and his two children, The Biloxi Sun Herald reported. It alleges Sims died as a result of “excessive, unnecessary and unlawful“ force by police.

Police tried to arrest Sims in August 2019 on multiple felony charges, including repeatedly fleeing police in other chases, aggravated assault, domestic violence and child endangerment, authorities said at the time.

Sims led police on a chase from Pascagoula into Moss Point before he ditched the vehicle and ran, Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley said. During the foot pursuit, Sims was accused of displaying a firearm “in a threatening manner,” according to the chief.

Ashley has said officer Lancen Shipman’s deadly force was justified because Sims refused to follow orders to stop or drop the weapon.

In October, a Jackson County grand jury cleared Shipman of criminal wrongdoing in the shooting, though he still faced internal discipline for failing to turn on his body camera’s audio during the encounter.

The family’s lawsuit alleged Shipman had inadequate training in use-of-force techniques and unnecessarily shot and killed Sims. It also contended he failed to follow protocol by not calling for backup before chasing Sims and firing his weapon while Sims was still at a distance, among other issues.

The lawsuit also said police failed to give Sims immediate medical aid.

Moss Point officials have not responded to the allegations in the lawsuit, the Sun Herald said.