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A grand jury in Clarke County, Mississippi has decided not to charge a police officer in the death of Jonathan Sanders, an unarmed Black man who was placed in a chokehold by officer Kevin Herrington last summer.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Herrington had reasonable suspicion that Sanders was involved with drug activity, and excessive force was warranted in the arrest. The July 8 incident began when Sanders made a comment to Herrington, who had pulled over a drunk driver. Witnesses say Herrington allegedly said “I’m going to get that nigger,” and placed Sanders in a chokehold for over twenty minutes as he waited for backup.

Chokwe Lumumba, an attorney for the Sanders family, tells The Guardian:

“Witness 1 saw officer Herrington’s blue lights come on,” said Lumumba. “Jonathan’s horse reared up, startled, and knocked Jonathan off his horse. His light slipped around his neck. Jonathan ran to get the horse and Officer Herrington came from behind him, yanked him down to the ground in front of the house with the light strap and placed him in a chokehold. Jonathan didn’t even see him.”

“I never saw him go for the officer,” said Witness 1, who was quickly joined by Witnesses 2 and 3, according to the attorneys. They said Herrington held Sanders face-down on the ground and placed his arms around Sanders’ neck to restrain him.

Witness 3, who the attorneys said has law enforcement experience, told investigators he ran outside to see what was going on and told Herrington: “‘Let him up; he won’t be able to breathe in my grass because my grass is too high,’” said Lumumba. Witness 2, who had also moved outside, said he or she then heard Sanders twice say “I can’t breathe”.

Sanders’ family claimed he died at the scene, while paramedics declared he passed at a local hospital. After administrators sat Sanders upright, blood rushed out of his mouth, The Guardian writes. State medical examiners ruled his death a homicide, noting the 39-year-old died from manual asphyxiation.

The grand jury also discredited claims that the police officer used racial slurs during his encounter with Sanders. All witnesses and Sanders’ mother testified before the grand jury, a practice not normally used in grand jury proceedings.

SOURCE: The Clarion-Ledger | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform

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