The death of a man, who witnesses say was assaulted by police as he was arrested, has been ruled a homicide by coroners.
George Robinson, 61, died on January 13 from a bleed on the brain caused by a blunt-force trauma to the head, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart confirmed.
Information as to what caused the injury hasn’t been released yet, but the fatal blow was said to be sustained during the arrest in West Jackson, Mississippi.
Neighbor Connie Bolton says she saw officers strike Robinson in the head with a flashlight and body-slam him to the ground, before stamping several times on his chest and stomach.
She described Robinson as resembling a ‘rag-doll’ when officers lifted his limp body from the ground, in an interview with Mississippi Today.
Another neighbor, James Taylor, witnessed officers approach Robinson in his car, asking him to get out.
Having recently suffered a stroke, Taylor says Robinson suffers mobility issues and was moving slower than the officers wanted, so ‘they just snatched him.’
‘They were brutal,’ he added.
Robinson was taken to hospital after his encounter with police and died two-days later.
After the autopsy results were published on Wednesday, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced that three officers involved in the arrest had been placed ‘immediately on administrative leave’.
The officers haven’t been named, but the Mayor said that grand jurors will consider criminal charges.
Jackson Police Chief James Davis revealed to reporters last week that officers from the K-9 unit approached Robinson as part of an investigation into the murder of Reverend Anthony Longino.
Officers arrested Robinson on misdemeanor charges of failing to obey a police officer and resisting arrest and then released him, telling him to show up to court later.
Two men have since been charged with the murder of Longino.
On Monday, friends and family of Robinson held a march in protest against police brutality and his death, holding signs and wearing T-shirts saying ‘#JusticeForGeorge’.
Residents of Jones Avenue described Robinson as an easy-going ‘source of happiness’ at the march, citing his several acts of kindness and the general selflessness he showed to those around him.
‘It seems unreal,’ said Roshunda Butler to the Clarion Ledger. ‘He was just here. He helped everybody out when we need it.’
Spokesman for the police department, Sgt. Roderick Holmes said Robinson’s family have filed a complaint against the officers.
‘You cannot come in and take over a neighborhood and brutalize when you are trying to do justice for another family,’ Robinson’s sister, Bettersten Wade, told WAPT-TV .
‘If you did justice for them, then I should have justice for my family, too.’
Last May, two Mississippi police officers were fired in Laurel for brutality after unleashing a vicious assault on unarmed African American, James Barnett.
After a brief chase, police told Barnett to get on the ground. When he did they began stamping on him, on the ground.
An investigation by Vox last year found that US Police kill African Americans at a disproportionate rate to other races.
In 2012, though black people made up for just 13% of the population, they accounted for 31% of people killed by police.
In a more recent study, the Guardian found that in 2015, racial minorities – who accounted for 37% of the population – made up for 62.7% of unarmed victims shot-dead by police.
Of that percentage, African-Americans were found to have died at the hands of police at a rate of 7.2 per million, while whites are killed at a rate of 2.9 per million
‘We have to find ways of de-escalating police response to black people,’ said Dr. Atheendar S. Venkataramani, an author of an investigation into the psychological affects of police brutality.
‘It has to become policy. It has to become part of how it’s implemented from the top down. We have to have trauma-informed practices everywhere: in the schools, in families, in workplaces.’