Family and community frustrated by a lack of accountability of the death of Damien Montrell Cameron from injuries sustained during his arrest by Rankin County deputies hold a news conference Thursday, June 22, 2023. Activists/supporters are seen on the left, and family members on the right. COMMUNITYx CEO Chloë Cheyenne is in the middle Credit: Photo courtesy of COMMUNITYx

Editor’s Note: This story includes a graphic photo of Damien Cameron in the hospital before his death.

Two years after a Rankin County man died at the hands of sheriff’s deputies, family and community members are frustrated by a lack of accountability and answers. 

On July 26, 2021, Monica Lee witnessed her son, Damien Montrell Cameron, die on the front lawn of her Braxton home after two deputies allegedly chased, beat and tased him and knelt on his neck. The deputies said they were responding to a vandalism call reported by a neighbor who accused Cameron, according to an incident report obtained by Insider.  

“That was my child and I feel like I deserve justice for him,” Lee said during a Thursday morning press conference in Jackson. 

Damien Cameron died in the custody of Rankin County sheriff’s deputies. Credit: Courtesy of the Cameron family

She said the deputies, Hunter Elward and Luke Stickman, have not been held liable for their use of force, which is a reason why she is calling for a renewed focus on her son’s case and demands to ensure justice. 

The family wants all officers involved in Cameron’s death to be charged, including Elward, Stickman and Sheriff Bryan Bailey, and for a criminal investigation to take place. 

The district attorney and attorney general’s offices did not find evidence to prosecute the deputies, the family says, and last year a grand jury declined to indict the deputies. 

Cameron’s family continues to ask for information such as the original police report and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s investigation report, dashcam footage and coroner and autopsy reports. 

Not having these critical pieces of information make it difficult for the family to understand what happened to Cameron, to build a case and fight for justice, said Chloë Cheyenne, CEO of COMMUNITYx, which is working with the Cameron family. 

Representatives from the Rankin sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Damien Cameron’s family photographed him in the hospital shortly before he died from the injuries he sustained during his arrest by Rankin County deputies. Credit: Courtesy of Damien Cameron's family

Because the family says there has been no accountability at the local or state level, they are appealing to President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland and are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff’s department for civil rights violations. 

These demands come as Cameron’s case has been mentioned alongside recent allegations of misconduct by Rankin sheriff’s deputies. 

A $400 million lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of two men allegedly beaten and tortured by deputies, showing a pattern of excessive force against Black men. The lawsuit cites Cameron’s death as part of that pattern. Elward is also named as one of the deputies that participated in the alleged misconduct against the two men. 

Cameron’s family is working with COMMUNITYx, an online activism tool, and has a website to raise awareness, share information and give people a way to show support through signing a petition or donating to a fundraiser. 

“Everyone in this room clearly understands that this (excessive force by police) is a systemic issue across the country and it’s a deeply-rooted issue clearly here in Rankin County,” Cheyenne said. 

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Mina, a California native, covers the criminal justice system. Before joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Clarion Ledger and newspapers in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today.