UPDATE 7/15/2015 6:07 PM:
The FBI is joining Mississippi officials in getting answers to why Jonathan Sanders was killed after encountering Officer Kevin Herrington on July 8. Bilbo Mitchell, the Clarke County District Attorney, said that it is too early in the investigation to arrest the officer, the Associated Press reports.
In order for Herrington to be arrested, Mitchell must prove that there is probable cause to do so. A grand jury will hear the case as early as September. Herrington is currently on unpaid leave. Moreover, Sanders's body has been returned to his family and officials have not yet released autopsy results.
Mississippi officials are investigating the death of an unarmed Black man who died last Wednesday in Stonewall, Miss., after an interaction with a police officer. The family's attorney says that Jonathan Sanders was killed "by asphyxiation" during a struggle with an officer while saying, "I can't breathe."
Attorney J. Stewart Parrish told local media that Officer Kevin Herrington pulled Sanders off a horse and buggy and choked him to death with a flashlight. The accusations are based on stories from relatives who witnessed the altercation, he told The Guardian.
“We won’t know until the autopsy is over what was the actual cause of death,” said Stonewall police chief Michael Street. “But there was no flashlight used to choke anybody – that’s false. And there were no shots fired by either man, there were no weapons at all, and he was not dragged off a horse.”
Officer Herrington is on administrative leave without pay while the case is being investigated.
Sanders was 39 and the father of two children. His friends and some relatives have started a "Justice for Jonathan" campaign. On Sunday (July 12), community members in Stonewall gathered to commemorate Sanders, according to WTOK in Meridian, Miss.
“Please continue praying for me and my family as we so desperately need,” his mother, Frances Sanders, said on Facebook.
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(Photo: Courtesy WTOK-TV)