Dominique Clayton's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oxford Police Department, the City of Oxford and former OPD officer Matthew Kinne.

The family of Dominique Clayton, the 32-year-old mother of four who was shot and killed by former Oxford police officer Matthew Kinne, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oxford Police Department, the City of Oxford and Kinne on Thursday.

Clayton was killed by former OPD officer Kinne the morning of May 19, 2019, when he conducted a “welfare check” on Clayton at her home. The check resulted in Kinne killing her, shooting her one time in the head with his OPD-issued firearm. Clayton’s body was found later that afternoon by her 8-year-old son.

Kinne pleaded guilty to capital murder July 30 in New Albany for killing Clayton and was sentenced to life without the chance of parole.

“These past two years have been a painful experience because it’s not anything you expect to experience… Our family is finally getting the justice we need. It’s heartwarming, heartwrenching… You don’t know whether to be happy or sad because it’s justice for her, but she’s still not here to be with us,” Cha’nya Clayton, Dominique Clayton’s 22-year-old cousin, told Mississippi Today.

“I just want justice for my aunt, and I want my cousins to be taken care of,” Makayla Clayton, Dominique Clayton’s 14-year-old niece, said at Thursday’s press conference about the wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit includes details surrounding Kinne’s previous law enforcement experience before joining OPD. Before Kinne was hired in Oxford, he was allegedly forced to resign by a previous law enforcement agency after he was identified as a person of interest in the suspicious death of his former wife, according to the lawsuit. 

It was ultimately determined that his former wife died by suicide. Kinne was not formally charged for her death, but after the law enforcement agency conducted an internal investigation, he was asked to resign or be terminated. After his resignation, he applied for a police officer position with OPD, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said OPD knew the circumstances around which Kinne resigned from his previous law enforcement agency.

“Despite being aware of the fact that… Kinne would likely violate the constitutional rights of another person, based upon the information included in his personnel file… (OPD) Chief (Jeff) McCutchen and the City (of Oxford) authorized the hiring of…Officer Kinne,” the lawsuit said.

Kinne was hired by OPD, remarried and had two children. During his time with OPD, he became involved in an extramarital affair with Clayton, the lawsuit said. After Kinne killed Clayton, he and another OPD officer, Diarra Gibbons, lied and told Clayton’s family she had died by suicide, the lawsuit alleges.

Gibbons is still an officer with OPD, while Kinne is now serving a life sentence for Clayton’s murder.

Clayton’s family is being represented by Carlos Moore of The Cochran Firm in Grenada and Michael Carr of the Carr Law Firm in Cleveland.

“They (Clayton’s family) have justice in the criminal courts. Now, they need justice civilly. She left four young kids,” Moore said in Thursday’s press conference about the lawsuit. “They need justice. Left without a mother. Have to fend for themselves. Any money that’s recovered in this lawsuit will go into a trust fund for these kids for when they are adults, so that they can take care of themselves.”

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Brittany Brown was Mississippi Today’s Justice Reporter, covering the state’s justice system with an eye for racial justice and inequity. Brittany formerly served as Mississippi Today's inaugural Emerging Reporters Fellow.