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Family of Aderrien Murry, 11-year-old shot by police, files federal lawsuit

Aderrien Murry, 11, called the police as his mother asked — but when officers arrived, one of them shot him in the chest. A new lawsuit says officials failed to train and supervise its officers.
Courtesy of Nakala Murry
Aderrien Murry, 11, called the police as his mother asked — but when officers arrived, one of them shot him in the chest. A new lawsuit says officials failed to train and supervise its officers.

The family of Aderrien Murry has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Indianola, Miss., and at least two police officials, after an officer shot 11-year-old Murry in the chest after the boy placed a 911 call on May 20.

The boy has been recovering from his wounds, which include a collapsed lung, a fractured rib and a lacerated liver.

The family's lawsuit seeks at least $5 million in damages, accusing the police department of gross negligence and reckless disregard, and failing to properly train and supervise its officers.

The family has called for the officer involved to be fired, along with Police Chief Ronald Sampson. They also want police body camera footage of the incident released.

The shooting unfolded on May 20

Officers who responded to the domestic disturbance call acted in a way, the suit alleges, that was "so outrageous that it shocks the moral and legal conscience of the community."

Aderrien Murry's mother says she told him to call the police after the father of one of her other children came to their home in the early hours of May 20 in an "irate" mood.

After arriving at Murry's home in response to the emergency call, police instructed everyone inside to come out with their hands up. His mother says that when Aderrien Murry emerged from around a corner, running toward the door, an officer opened fire.

She rushed to help her son, putting her hands on his wound to try to stop the blood flowing out. The officer also tried to render aid, and police called an ambulance. Her son didn't understand what happened, she said.

"His words to me were: 'Why did he shoot me? What did I do?' and he just started crying," Nakala Murry said at a news conference last week.

Suit alleges civil rights violations, poor oversight

The lawsuit filed by Carlos Moore, the family's attorney, accuse the police of violating Aderrien Murry's civil rights — specifically the Fourth Amendment's protection against the use of excessive force and the 14th Amendment's guarantee of due process.

"What we do know is he obeyed the officer's command," Moore said of Aderrien, according to member station Mississippi Public Broadcasting. "He came out of his room with nothing in his hands and was shot."

"He was not a threat to anyone. He was just obeying the command."

The officer who fired his weapon is Sgt. Greg Capers, according to the court documents. Last week, Indianola City Attorney Kimberly Merchant told local newspaper The Enterprise-Tocsin that Capers had been removed from active duty.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. It has released few details, citing the ongoing inquiry.

Nakala Murry has said the key issue in this case isn't race — she, her son and Capers are all Black — but police training and attitudes.

"You're here to protect and serve," Murry said. "In this case, we didn't feel protected. We felt like victims."

In the U.S., police are more likely to use fatal force on Black people than any other ethnic group, according to Statista — which notes that fatal police shootings have continued on a worrying upward trend.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.