Political News

Victim's cousin decries applause for indicted former officer

Posted September 15

— Relatives of a black man fatally shot after a foot chase by a white police officer say other officers were "disrespectful" when they applauded the former officer after he was indicted on a manslaughter charge.

Ernesto Ball, a cousin of 26-year-old Ricky Ball, spoke Thursday on WTWG-AM radio in Columbus, Mississippi. He said relatives are upset because they never received notice that Canyon Boykin, a former officer there, was being arraigned last Friday.

Ernesto Ball also said it was wrong that Boykin didn't appear in open court. The arraignment was conducted in the chambers of Lowndes County Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens, who set Boykin's bail at $20,000 pending a Nov. 28 trial. Boykin has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

An interracial crowd of Boykin supporters applauded as the 26-year-old left the courthouse in handcuffs. He was subsequently released.

"The one thing that gets me the most is watching on the news feed as police officers applauded Mr. Boykin as he was brought out in cuffs," Ernesto Ball said. "We found that to be disrespectful and a slap to our faces, applauding like that when a young man has lost his life as if his life didn't matter. That, in itself, would destroy the foundation for the bridge between the community and the police department."

The fatal shooting in October 2015 had sparked several protests in in Columbus, a mostly black city of 23,000 in northeast Mississippi.

The radio host who conducted the interview was state Rep. Kabbir Karriem, D-Columbus.

"The round of applause and the way the things were handled, it seems like someone got special treatment," Karriem said. "It raises some other questions with this case."

Karriem was a City Council member before he was elected to the state House last November, and he was among local elected officials who had called for calm after the shooting.

Boykin has said he shot Ball after Ball appeared to point a gun at him. Ball's family has disputed whether Boykin had cause to shoot. It was one of several shootings that have come under heightened scrutiny after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2015.

A pistol that was reported stolen from a Columbus police officer's home was found near Ball's body, as was a substance believed to be marijuana, authorities said.

Conviction on a manslaughter charge carries a possible prison term of 20 years.

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Associated Press writer Jeff Amy contributed to this report.

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