A Mississippi city and its police department are reportedly being sued after the police chief was fired for bragging about shooting and killing people during a racist and homophobic rant.
According to the federal suit, obtained by USA Today, five Black Mississipians have requested a restraining order against the Lexington Police Department to prevent officers from infringing upon citizens’ constitutional rights.
The civil-rights law firm JULIAN filed the lawsuit, which is intended to stop law enforcement in Lexington from “threatening, coercing, harassing, assaulting or interfering” with the city's majority Black population. It also claims the department has a pattern and practice of using excessive force, making false arrests and retaliating against officers who report misconduct.
During a secret conversation that was recorded, then-Lexington Police Chief Sam Dobbins spoke about shooting a Black man more than 100 times. That recording, which led to Dobbins’ ousting, was released last month to the media by JULIAN.
Dobbins and interim Chief Charles Henderson are named in the lawsuit.
"We're bringing this suit because we've got to protect the Black citizens of Lexington," Jill Collen Jefferson, president and founder of JULIAN, told USA TODAY. "Their rights are being routinely violated. They're being intimidated, they're being harassed, they're being targeted, over and over and over again. And it has not stopped with the firing of that police chief."
Following Dobbins’ firing, Henderson told the newspaper that his new administration would have zero tolerance for racism. "We're trying to move forward," Henderson previously said. "That's not going to depict the way the Lexington Police Department is ... we're not a part of any type of racist activity."