By William Moore
TUPELO – The attorney representing Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert’s family has called for the federal government to open a criminal investigation into the officer-involved shooting that took Shumpert’s life.
“I sent a letter to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, asking them to open a criminal investigation into the actions and obsessive force used by officer Tyler Cook,” said Grenada attorney Carlos Moore during a press conference Wednesday. “We also asked them to investigate the entire Tupelo Police Department for engaging in a pattern of practice of depriving persons of their constitutionally protected rights.”
Shumpert, 37, was shot and killed by Cook on June 18 after a traffic stop turned into a foot chase and altercation between the Tupelo man, TPD officer and a K-9 unit.
During the Wednesday press conference, Moore introduced some new information, defended some previous statements and backed away from others.
Moore made claims that the officer who initially pulled over Shumpert and passenger Charles Foster was involved in the staging of a photo that shows Cook one hour after the incident in an ambulance. The city, which has not released the name of the other officer, released the photo of Cook last week.
Moore stuck by his statement that Cook’s Belgian Malinois K-9 attacked Shumpert’s groin and left a gaping wound near his groin. The city said the dog did not attack Shumpert.
According to hospital reports released by Moore to the New York Times, the emergency room doctor said the groin wound appeared to be from a gunshot. Moore declined to release the hospital reports to any other media outlets.
“My expert says the injuries are consistent with a K-9 attack,” said Moore, who sent pictures taken at the funeral home, after Shumpert had undergone surgery and an autopsy, to chief medical examiner of Washington, D.C., Roger Mitchell.
But Mitchell’s email, which was distributed at the press conference, never said any specific wounds were caused by a canine, only that the hospital records were “consistent with an altercation with another person and a canine.” Mitchell said he would have to review actual autopsy photographs before making any definitive conclusions about the source of the wounds.
Moore also distanced himself from the initial claim that medical attention was delayed and the ambulance did not arrive until an hour later. That claim was refuted by a home security video that Moore released to the media.
“Thankfully, the Daily Journal was able to slow down the video some and could see within 10 minutes, 10 to 12 minutes the ambulance did arrive,” Moore said. “That was something we missed initially.”
On June 30, Moore filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Aberdeen on behalf of Peggy Shumpert, Shumpert’s widow, and Foster. The lawsuit asks the city of Tupelo to pay $35 million.
The 11-page complaint lists Mayor Jason Shelton, Police Chief Bart Aguirre, Cook and 10 John Does as defendants. The suit claims assault and battery; violations of due process, equal dignity and equal protection rights; excessive force; and wrongful death.
“The city needs to own up to their mistakes, pay this family and let them start to heal,” Moore said.