(RepublicanInformer.com)- A group of Black residents from a small town in Mississippi have filed a lawsuit that seeks to protect them from their own police department.
Last month, the chief of the Lexington Police Department was fired after an audio recording was leaked in which he repeatedly used homophobic and racial slurs.
The Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting was the first to report on the recording. On it, the town’s police chief, Sam Dobbins, who is white, bragged about the fact that he killed 13 people while serving as a police officer. He then used racial slurs on a repeated basis, and he used them when he was describing an incident in which he shot someone 119 times.
Dobbins told the news outlet that he wasn’t aware of the recording at all, and said that he denied that he used any racial slurs. He also wouldn’t comment on any of the alleged shootings that he apparently talked about on the recording.
Ultimately, though, the Board of Alderman with the city of Lexington voted 3-2 to fire him from his position.
The lawsuit, though, says that even though Dobbins is no longer in his position, he “continues to menace the community, patrolling in the passenger seat of a police-issued vehicle with an on-duty officer.”
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. It claims that there has been a culture and pattern of racism that has existed at the city’s police department for years now, and that further accountability and investigation is required.
As the suit states:
“The culture of Lexington is corrupt. The city is in a sense under its own martial law with Black citizens held hostage to the police, afraid to even move.”
The suit further claims that the police department consistently uses “disproportionate and unnecessary force” toward the city’s Black residents. They have made multiple false arrests, it claims, and also retaliate against any officers who end up reporting misconduct about another officer.
“[The department] operates within a culture of corruption and lawlessness, daily and habitually subjecting Black citizens to targeting, harassment and brutality, including violence, in violation of their constitutional rights.”
The suit claims that this hasn’t changed at all since Dobbins was fired. In fact, the interim chief who was appointed to replace him, Charles Henderson, has allegedly continued on the same path. The group wrote:
“[Henderson] played a pivotal role in many of the constitutional violations … and LPD, now under his command, has continued to target and harass Black residents.”
The group is seeking punitive and compensatory damages through its case, the amount of which they hope will be determined at a trial. The defendants listed in the suit are Henderson, Dobbins, the Lexington Police Department and the city of Lexington.
They are asking the court to declare that the PD’s “policy, practice and/or custom of targeting, threatening, coercing, assaulting and harassing these Plaintiffs and other Black Lexington citizens” ultimately violates three Amendments to the U.S. Constitution — the First, Fourth and Fourteenth.