BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of two white men charged in an attack on a Black FedEx employee who was making a delivery.
Brandon Case and his father, Gregory Case, are charged with attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy and shooting into the vehicle driven by D’Monterrio Gibson in January 2022. Gibson, now 25, was not injured. But the chase and gunfire led to complaints on social media of racism in Brookhaven, about an hour’s drive south of the state capital, Jackson.
Judge David Strong said he made the mistrial decision because of errors by a Brookhaven Police Department detective. On Wednesday, the judge ended the day’s session early after Detective Vincent Fernando acknowledged under oath while the jury was out of the courtroom that he had not previously given prosecutors or defense attorneys a videotaped statement police had taken from Gibson.
The judge said the officer also improperly testified about guns found in the home of one of the men on trial and gun shell casings found outside the home. Defense attorneys requested the mistrial, and Strong said he had no choice but to grant it.
“In 17 years, I don’t think I’ve seen it,” the judge said of the errors.
Sharon McClendon, Gibson’s mother, burst out with a loud expletive in the courtroom after the judge’s announcement, and she and her son declined to speak to reporters as they left the courthouse. Highway Patrol officers walked with them to a private vehicle, and some supporters hugged Gibson.
Rayshun Bridges, a Black resident of Brookhaven, stood outside the courthouse with a handwritten poster that declared: “We want justice for D’Monterrio.”
The Cases, who remain out on bond, sat stoically as the judge announced his decision. Terrell Stubbs, the defense attorney for Gregory Case, declined to comment.
After court adjourned, District Attorney Dee Bates told reporters that he disagrees with the judge’s decision. Bates said a new trial will be scheduled, but he does not know if it will be before he leaves office at the end of the year.
On Wednesday, Gibson’s attorney in a civil lawsuit, Carlos Moore, praised the prosecution’s work but said outside court that Fernando’s testimony showed police were not thorough in the investigation.
“If this does not end up with convictions of both Cases, I do think it’s going to be because of the shoddy work of the Brookhaven Police Department,” Moore said.
Moore compared the episode to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was running through a Georgia subdivision in 2020 when three white men — a father, son and neighbor — chased him down and one blasted him with a shotgun.
The encounter between Gibson and the Cases happened as Gibson made deliveries for FedEx on the evening of Jan. 24, 2022, while driving a rental van with the Hertz logo on three sides. After he dropped off a package at a home on a dead-end public road, Gregory Case used a pickup truck to try to block the van from leaving, and Brandon Case came outside with a gun, Bates told the majority-white jury.
As Gibson drove the van around the pickup truck, shots were fired, with three rounds hitting the delivery van and some of the packages inside, Bates said.
Stubbs told jurors that his client saw a van outside his mother-in-law’s unoccupied home and went to check what was happening. The elder Case was just going to ask the van driver what was going on, but the driver did not stop, Stubbs said.
Detective Fernando testified that a truck stop’s security camera video recorded a white van being followed by a pickup truck at 7:31 p.m., 14 minutes before Gregory Case called police.
A police dispatcher testified that the elder Case called first, reporting he had seen a suspicious vehicle near his home and the van almost ran over him. Audio of the call was played in court, with Case saying he wanted to know who owns the van and he thought the driver was up to “something that wasn’t good.”
Gibson called shortly later, reporting that someone shot at the van while he was delivering a package, the dispatcher said.
Fernando also said cellphone records showed calls between the father and son’s phones that evening before Gregory Case called police.
Gibson is still employed by FedEx but is on workers’ compensation leave, Moore said. A judge last week dismissed Gibson’s federal lawsuit seeking $5 million from FedEx, writing that the lawsuit failed to prove the company discriminated against him because of his race. That litigation also named the city of Brookhaven, the police chief and the Cases, and Moore said he plans to file a new civil suit in state court.