Three former Jackson police officers are facing murder charges in the death of a man who died in their custody last year.
Avery Willis, Kenya McCarty and James Land were indicted last week on charges of second degree murder and manslaughter relating to the death of 41-year-old Keith Murriel on Dec. 31, 2022, said Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens.
“We at JPD will continue to be transparent and we will continue to have accountability measures in place not only from the bottom up, but from the top down as we move forward,” Interim Police Chief Joseph Wade said during a Wednesday press conference.
In a news release issued at the time, police said Murriel experienced a medical emergency while in police custody. But the man’s family disagrees, saying in an April lawsuit in federal court that the officers used excessive force against Murriel and failed to render medical aid.
“I believe we have to acknowledge his humanity and the individual that he was, and the tragic loss that will be shared amongst his family much different than the rest of us,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Wednesday.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation, and during that time the city didn’t release video. But now that the investigation is over, Lumumba said the city has released body camera footage from the three police officers and video from the area.
That video was released to Murriel’s family before the conference, and it was shared with local media outlets.
The video opens with officers driving up to the Extended Stay America hotel on East Beasley Road and talking with Murriel outside.
Later, one of the officers brings Murriel to the ground and holds him there by kneeling on his back. The sound of a stun gun can be heard multiple times as officers try to handcuff him, followed by screams.
An ambulance arrives, and the emergency personnel are seen administering CPR while one of the officers radios in that Murriel has suffered cardiac arrest.
Lumumba described the actions seen in the video as “excessive, disheartening and tragic.”
McCarty and Willis face charges of second degree murder and Land was charged with manslaughter, Owens said. As of Wednesday, the indictments have not yet been uploaded onto the Mississippi Electronic Court system.
Owens could not go into details about the case, but said the varying charges reflect culpability in the man’s death.
The indicted officers were placed on administrative leave at the beginning of the year during an internal police investigation. McCarty was fired in February, and Willis and Land were fired for a policy violation in April, WJTV reported.
“We want to build a vision of public safety that is based in community love and also based on trust, and these actions don’t appear to be consistent with that vision,” Wade said.
Additional reporting by Alex Rozier