Family of Mississippi Man Killed by Teens in Truck Files Civil Suit
James C. Anderson's family will be represented by Southern Poverty Law Center
The family of James C. Anderson, an African-American man viciously beaten in a Mississippi hotel parking lot then fatally run over by a truck in June, has filed a lawsuit against seven white teens allegedly involved in what is being considered a hate crime. The lawsuit accuses the teens of deliberately setting out to attack a black person. Two of the defendants, Deryl Dedmon and John Aaron Rice, face criminal charges. Dedmon was the alleged driver of the truck who was seen on video later seeming to brag about it, while Rice is accused of attacking Anderson before he was run over. As reported by the Washington Post:
The lawsuit said Rice, Dedmon and two others approached Anderson in the parking lot and surrounded him. It says Rice and Dedmon then attacked him “with the cooperation and encouragement” of the others. The three people who stayed in the vehicles during the attack acted as lookouts, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also said one of the teens screamed “white power” during the assault.
During a Tuesday news conference, Winston Thompson, an attorney for Anderson’s relatives, said the seven teens acted in a “joint venture” to harm a black person. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, but Thompson said he also wants to make sure all the facts come out. The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting Thompson with the lawsuit.
Shocking video of Anderson being hit by the truck was caught by the hotel’s security camera and broadcast by the Associated Press and other media earlier this year. Immediately, the public labeled it a hate crime. Filed in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Miss., the suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Anderson’s family.
Southern Poverty Law Center chief trial counsel Morris Dees said in a statement:
“James Anderson lost his life for no other reason than the color of his skin. Those responsible must be held accountable for their callous and deadly actions. We are filing this lawsuit today to ensure his family gets a measure of justice.”