Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tells Knox County leaders to be responsive
Ben Crump at Bethel Baptist (Photo: screenshot from video)
Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump told Knox News on Sunday night that local leaders should pay special attention to the community’s cries for justice sparked by the police death of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr. earlier this month.
The demonstrations, calling for the police’s bodycam video to be released quickly, began shortly after Knox County’s attorney general Charme Allen stated from the start that she would not publish it immediately. She did it last week at a lengthy press conference that included her announcement that she had found the shooting to be legally justified.
Proponents have since continued their demonstrations, calling for greater police accountability and an end to protection for officials such as qualified immunity, which gives officials strong protection from lawsuits for their actions in the workplace.
“Leaders and city officials should be sensitive but also respond to outrage because people are devastated,” said Crump. “A child was taken out of the ward way too early.”
Crump initially gained national attention and acted as the lead attorney for the Trayvon Martin family. Since then, he has been a national leader in representing black victims and their families in cases of police violence, unlawful death, and civil rights suits.
Crump announced last week that he was representing Thompson’s family. He said his office is still investigating the case and an expert is reviewing all of the footage frame by frame to understand what happened at Austin-East High Magnet High School on April 12 when Thompson was shot dead by Knoxville police Officer during a chaotic confrontation in a school bathroom.
Knox News reported Saturday that three of the four body cameras worn by officers in the bathroom failed to capture the entire encounter, including one that did not turn on at all. Knoxville police were equipped with bodycams less than two weeks before Thompson died.
“Once our own review is complete and I can decide what further steps to take on this case, we can talk more about the next steps,” said Crump.
“We are also investigating everything that happened prior to the incident prior to Anthony’s death to ensure the family is aware of every single circumstance that resulted in their child being killed.”
Crump said the review included the story of Regina Perkins, the mother of Thompson’s friend, who called the police to report that he had a physical altercation with her daughter on the morning of April 12. That call led the police to the school to speak to Thompson.
“We’re checking everything,” said Crump. “All allegations from everyone involved, so that the whole truth is out there for this family.”
Crump has represented the families of Michael Brown, Kendrick Johnson, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and most recently George Floyd and Daunte Wright.
To date, his company has raised $ 30 million in personal injury settlement, $ 8.7 million in unlawful death suits, and $ 10 million in civil rights cases for victims and their families, according to the company’s website.
Crump said it was an easy decision to represent the Thompson family, especially since a teenager lost his or her life.
“We always have to stand up for our children. I’m a father. When I see these incidents, when the police don’t approach our children as they approach others, that’s a problem,” he told Knox News. “Officers need to have better de-escalation tactics. When they see our children, we don’t want them to have a different perspective.”
Angela Dennis addresses issues at the intersection of race and justice through both contemporary and historical lenses.
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