Police testify in trial of 2 white Mississippi men in shooting at Black FedEx driver
Aug 16, 2023, 5:58 AM | Updated: 4:56 pm
(Hunter Cloud/The Daily Leader via AP)
BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A police dispatcher and a detective testified Wednesday in the trial of two white men in Mississippi who are accused of chasing and shooting at a Black FedEx driver who had dropped off a package at a home.
Brandon Case and his father, Gregory Charles Case, charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy and shooting into the vehicle driven by D’Monterrio Gibson in January 2022, sat with their attorneys in a small courtroom full of spectators.
Gibson, who is now 25, was not injured. But the chase and gunfire led to complaints on social media of racism in Brookhaven, about an hour’s drive south of the state capital, Jackson. Gibson’s attorney in a civil lawsuit, Carlos Moore, compared the episode to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was running empty-handed through a Georgia subdivision in 2020 when three white men — a father, son and neighbor — chased him down and blasted him with a shotgun.
The encounter between Gibson and the Cases happened as Gibson made deliveries for FedEx on the evening of Jan. 24, 2022, while driving a rental van with the Hertz logo on three sides. After he dropped off a package at a home on a dead-end public road, Gregory Case used a pickup truck to try to block the van from leaving, and Brandon Case came outside with a gun, District Attorney Dee Bates told the majority-white jury.
As Gibson drove the van around the pickup truck, “shots are fired,” Bates said, with three rounds hitting the delivery van and some of the packages inside.
Gregory Case’s attorney, Terrell Stubbs, told jurors that his client saw a van outside his mother-in-law’s unoccupied home and went to check what was happening. Gregory Case was just going to ask the van driver what was going on, but the driver did not stop, Stubbs said.
Vincent Fernando, a Brookhaven Police Department detective, testified that a truck stop’s security camera video recorded a white van being followed by a pickup truck at 7:31 p.m., 14 minutes before Gregory Case called police.
A police dispatcher testified that Gregory Case called first, reporting he had seen a suspicious vehicle near his home and the van almost ran over him. Audio of the call was played in court, with Case saying he wanted to know who owns the van and he thought the driver was up to “something that wasn’t good.”
Gibson called shortly thereafter, reporting that someone shot at the van while he was delivering a package, the dispatcher said.
Fernando also said cellphone records showed calls between the father and son’s phones were made that evening before Gregory Case called police.
Stubbs questioned Fernando repeatedly about whether an average person would try to find out what’s happening if they saw a strange vehicle near their home. “All Mr. Gibson had to do was stop and say, ’Hey, I’m a FedEx driver. … He was in a Hertz van with a Florida tag,” Stubbs said.
Fernando replied: “The average citizen should call the police department and ask for help.”
The judge ended Wednesday’s court session early because Fernando acknowledged under oath, while the jury was not in the courtroom, that he had not previously given prosecutors or defense attorneys a videotaped statement that police took from Gibson after Gibson’s encounter with the Cases.
Outside the courtroom, Moore praised the prosecution’s work but said Fernando’s testimony showed that police were not thorough in the investigation.
“If this does not end up with convictions of both Cases, I do think it’s going to be because of the shoddy work of the Brookhaven Police Department,” Moore said.
Gibson’s mother, Sharon McClendon, said watching the trial has been difficult, especially when a defense attorney called her son a trespasser. She said Gibson is still in therapy and has been unable to work since the days after he was shot at and chased. “He’s still very traumatized by this incident,” McClendon told The Associated Press outside the courthouse Wednesday.
During a news conference days after the confrontation, Gibson said he was wearing a FedEx uniform and driving the van FedEx had rented for his deliveries when he dropped off a package at a house. He said the driver of a pickup truck tried to cut him off as he left the driveway.
Gibson said he swerved around the truck and encountered a second man who was pointing a gun at the van and motioning him to stop. Gibson said the man fired as he drove away, damaging the van and packages inside. The pickup driver chased him to Interstate 55 near Brookhaven before ending the pursuit, he said.
Gibson is still employed by FedEx and is out on workers’ compensation leave, Moore said. A judge last week dismissed Gibson’s federal lawsuit seeking $5 million from FedEx, writing that the lawsuit failed to prove the company discriminated against him because of his race. That litigation also named the city of Brookhaven, the police chief and the Cases, and Moore said he plans to file a new civil suit in state court.