AP U.S.

Trial begins for 2 white Mississippi men charged with shooting at Black FedEx driver

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Attorneys made brief opening arguments Tuesday in the trial of two white men in Mississippi who are accused of chasing and shooting at a Black FedEx driver who had dropped off a package at a home.

Brandon Case and his father, Gregory Charles Case, were indicted in November on charges of attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy and shooting into the vehicle of D’Monterrio Gibson in January 2022.

Gibson, who was 24 at the time, was not injured. But the chase and gunfire led to complaints on social media of racism in Brookhaven, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of the state capital, Jackson. The trial is taking place in Brookhaven.

District Attorney Dee Bates told jurors that Gibson made deliveries for FedEx on Jan. 24, 2022, while driving a rental van with the Hertz logo on three sides. Gibson dropped off a package at a home on a dead-end road, Bates said. Then, Gregory Case used a pickup truck to try to block the van from leaving, and Brandon Case came outside with a gun, the prosecutor said.

As Gibson drove the van around the pickup truck “and shots are fired,” Bates said, with three rounds hitting the delivery van.

Gregory Case’s attorney, Terrell Stubbs, told jurors that his client saw a van outside his mother-in-law’s unoccupied home and went to check what was happening. Gregory Case was just going to ask the van driver what was going on, but the driver did not stop, Stubbs said.

The sun had already gone down. “It was completely dark, completely dark, and somebody was in the wrong place,” Stubbs said. “It wasn’t my client.”

Attorneys for Brandon Case did not give opening arguments. Testimony is set to begin Wednesday.

During a news conference days after the confrontation, Gibson said he was wearing a FedEx uniform and driving an unmarked van FedEx had rented when he dropped off a package at a house. He said that as he was leaving, he noticed a white pickup truck pulling away from another house on the same large lot.

Gibson said the pickup driver tried to cut him off as he left the driveway. He said he swerved around the driver and then encountered a second man who had a gun pointed at the van and was motioning for him to stop. Gibson said the man fired as he drove away, damaging the van and packages inside. The white pickup chased him to Interstate 55 near Brookhaven before ending the pursuit, he said.

Carlos Moore, an attorney who represented Gibson in a lawsuit in federal court, compared the episode to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was running empty-handed through a Georgia subdivision in 2020 when three white strangers chased him down and blasted him with a shotgun.

Moore said Tuesday that Gibson’s family “is cautiously optimistic that they’ll get justice here in Lincoln County.”

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III dismissed the $5 million lawsuit Moore filed on behalf of Gibson in January 2023. The lawsuit was against FedEx, the city of Brookhaven, Brookhaven Police Chief Kenny Collins, Brandon Case and Gregory Charles Case.

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Jordan wrote that Gibson’s attorney failed to prove FedEx discriminated against Gibson because of his race.

“The Cases’ alleged conduct is deplorable,” Jordan wrote. “But Gibson fails to state a viable claim against FedEx for which the Court would have original jurisdiction.”

Moore said Friday that he plans to sue in state court. He also said Gibson is still employed by FedEx and is out on workers’ compensation leave.

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