Mississippi judge declares mistrial for 2 white men charged in attack on Black FedEx driver
Aug 17, 2023, 7:38 AM | Updated: 4:52 pm
(AP Photo/Emily Wagster Pettus)
BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Citing errors by police, a Mississippi judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of two white men accused of chasing and shooting at a Black FedEx driver who was making a delivery.
Brandon Case and his father, Gregory Case, are charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy and shooting into the vehicle driven by D’Monterrio Gibson in January 2022. Gibson, 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.
Judge David Strong said he made the mistrial decision because of errors by a Brookhaven Police Department detective. On Wednesday, the judge ended the session early after Detective Vincent Fernando acknowledged under oath while the jury was out of the courtroom that he had not previously given prosecutors or defense attorneys a videotaped statement police had taken from Gibson.
The judge said the officer also improperly testified about guns found in the home of one of the men on trial and shell casings found outside the home. Defense attorneys requested the mistrial, and Strong said he had no choice but to grant it.
“In 17 years, I don’t think I’ve seen it,” the judge said of the errors.
Sharon McClendon, Gibson’s mother, burst out with a loud expletive in the courtroom after the judge’s announcement, and she and her son declined to speak to reporters as they left the courthouse. Highway Patrol officers walked with them to a private vehicle, and some supporters hugged Gibson.
Rayshun Bridges, of Brookhaven, stood outside the courthouse with a handwritten poster reading: “We want justice for D’Monterrio.” He said he does not know Gibson but has been following news coverage of the case.
“That young guy, he was at work trying to do his job,” Bridges said.
The Cases, who remain out on bond, sat stoically as the judge announced his decision. Terrell Stubbs, the defense attorney for Gregory Case, declined to comment.
After court adjourned, District Attorney Dee Bates, who leaves office at the end of the year, told reporters that he disagrees with the judge’s decision. The new trial is not expected before the end of the year because the judge’s docket is full through December, a court official said.
Carlos Moore, Gibson’s attorney in a civil lawsuit, said the mistrial “represents not just an administrative setback but also a delay in justice for Mr. Gibson and his family.”
Moore said he has asked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the Brookhaven Police Department for misconduct.
“It is concerning that BPD withheld a potentially crucial evidence piece of evidence,” Moore said of the videotaped statement. “We believe that this is not an isolated incident but a part of a larger pattern of obstruction by BPD.”
Moore also called for the Justice Department to bring federal hate crime charges against the Cases, who defense attorneys have said tried to stop Gibson because he was driving a rental van with a Florida license plate and they wanted to know who was near a family home after dark.
The encounter between Gibson and the Cases happened as Gibson made FedEx deliveries on the evening of Jan. 24, 2022, while driving a 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, Bates told the majority-white jury.
As Gibson drove the van around the pickup truck, shots were fired, with three rounds hitting the delivery van and some of the packages inside, Bates said.
Stubbs told jurors that his client saw a van outside his mother-in-law’s unoccupied home and went to check what was happening. The elder Case was just going to ask the van driver what was going on, but the driver did not stop, Stubbs said.
Detective Fernando 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 the elder 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 thought the driver was up to “something that wasn’t good.”
Gibson called shortly later, 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 that evening before Gregory Case called police.
Gibson is still employed by FedEx but is 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.