Carlos Moore said Tuesday he is stepping down as attorney for the family of a man shot to death last week by a Moss Point police officer.
The Sun Herald also interviewed the officer’s attorney in more detail, as he is the only one who has seen the body-camera footage and is willing and able to talk to the media about it.
Moore said he made the decision to step down after he and the family of 27-year-old Toussaint Diamon Sims’ family met with District Attorney Angel Myers-McIlrath.
Moore is taking himself off the case to avoid any appearance of impropriety because he’s related to the family, he said.
“And so this is my last press conference. I believe it’s in the best interest of the family to have an attorney that’s not related to them,” he said on the steps of the Jackson County courthouse in Pascagoula on Tuesday morning.
Keena Sims, the mother of Toussaint Sims, said she intends to hire another attorney and pursue a $10 million lawsuit against the city, Mayor Mario King, Police Chief Brandon Ashley and the officer involved in the fatal shooting.
Moore said the meeting with Myers-McIlrath and her staff went well. The family will be able to see the body-camera footage once a grand jury reviews the evidence and decides whether or not the shooting was justified.
Moore said he doesn’t have a case to pursue if he can’t see the body-camera video.
“To make a fair assessment, I have to have the video,” he said. “And without the video, I do not know the totality of what happened on that ... evening.”
Myers-McIlrath released a statement Tuesday after the controversial shooting. She said specific rules prevent her or her office from releasing certain information to the public, including, but not limited to, evidence presented in ongoing proceedings.
“As District Attorney, I assure you that any officer-involved shooting will be presented to the grand jury,” Myers-McIlrath said. “I am confident the circumstances surrounding the death of Toussaint Sims are being thoroughly investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. While I understand this is a matter of public concern, the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct limit what information can be released.”
Lawyer describes video
Attorney Calvin Taylor, who is representing the officer, has reviewed the body-camera footage and said it clearly shows Sims had a firearm capable firing dozens of rounds. He said a loaded gun was found near Sims’ body.
On Tuesday, Taylor talked in more detail about what he saw when he viewed the body-camera footage.
He said the camera captured the time from when the officer combed his hair before leaving his home until after the shooting.
Initially, he said, the officer and others received a call about Sims being spotted at a gas station at the Moss Point-Pascagoula city line.
The officer was among several who tried to take Sims into custody on felony warrants, but he said Sims drove off from the store.
Sims, he said, led officers on a vehicle chase, exceeding 100 mph through the streets of Moss Point, before a tire on Sims’ car blew out and and car stopped in a ditch at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Second Street.
‘Nothing in his hands’
When Sims first gets out of the car to run away, Taylor said, “he has nothing in his hands.”
Because of that, he said, his client and another Moss Point police officer pulled out Tasers instead of their firearms in an attempt to take Sims into custody
His client, Taylor said, didn’t go for his firearm “because he wants to apprehend Mr. Sims in a non-lethal situation.”
The officers dropped the Tasers and grabbed their guns when they saw Sims reach for what appeared to be a gun in his front waistband, Taylor said.
“And you can see Mr. Sims on several occasions as he’s running, he’s turning back toward the position of the officer,” Taylor said, “and (my client) felt like he was attempting to shoot, and we know that the firearm was loaded and had a round in the chamber.”
At that point, Taylor said, the officer fired several times until he saw Sims jump a 4-foot tall chain-link fence and fall to the ground.
The camera footage, he said, clearly shows no other shots were fired and that his client never got within 10 feet of Sims’ body.
“The video makes it clear there were no witnesses,” Taylor said. “That’s why the video is so important . There are people that are providing information that may not be what they thought they saw.”
Carlos Moore previously told media he had spoken to a total of 14 witnesses, all of whom said that Sims was not armed when the officer shot and killed him.