Attorney Chockwe Antar Lumumba says the family of Jonathan Sanders wasn't surprised when they heard the preliminary results of his autopsy. Law enforcement agents told them he died by manual asphyxiation in a manner consistent with a homicide.
"The family felt it confirmed the information that they had received from what we feel are critical witnesses that have come forward to share their version of the facts," said Lumumba.
Lumumba said the facts according to witnesses are that on July 8, the black 39-year old father of two, was exercising one of his horses at night by riding a carriage, when he made a comment to Stonewall Police Officer Kevin Herrington, who is white made him mad. During the stop Herrington reportedly threw Sanders to the ground and choked him. Lon McCoy is married to Sander's cousin. He says he doesn't know the officer, but heard stories about Herrington.
"He was using his authority, throwing his weight around. Plenty of people had complained about him," said McCoy.
The Police Chief says he hasn't received any complaints. According to the Clarke County Sheriff's Department, Sanders was charged with possession of crack cocaine earlier this year and bonded out of jail. Mississippi Department of Corrections reports he was sentenced to five years for selling cocaine in 2003, and released on probation in 2007. McCoy said Sanders was staying out of trouble, spending most of his time taking care of his five horses.
"That's what he loved to do ride horses and spend time with his momma and his kids," said McCoy.
Officer Kevin Herrington is on administrative leave. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations is handling the case and waiting on the full autopsy and toxicology reports.