Two ex-police officers indicted for allegedly beating Black man in Miss.

Two ex-police officers indicted for allegedly beating Black man in Miss.
Bryce Gilbert (left) and Christopher Wade Robertson (right) (Source: Jasper County Jail)

JASPER COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Two former Laurel, Miss. police officers have been indicted by a grand jury in Jasper County.

District Attorney Matt Sullivan said Christopher Wade Robertson and Bryce Gilbert have been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating James Barnett, a Black man, on May 16, 2018.

James Barnett shows his injuries just days after he was allegedly beaten by two Laurel police officers.
James Barnett shows his injuries just days after he was allegedly beaten by two Laurel police officers. (Source: WDAM)

Robertson and Gilbert are accused of brutally beating Barnett after he drove away from a safety checkpoint in Laurel.

In a previous interview, Barnett admitted to turning around to avoid the checkpoint and leading officers on a 20-mile chase to the Heidelberg area in Jasper County.

Barnett said after the chase ended, he laid face down on the ground as directed by the officers. He said the officers then repeatedly kicked him in the face and harassed him after he was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Barnett said he felt the attack was racially motivated and feared for his life at the hands of the officers.

The indictment alleges Robertson and Gilbert caused or attempted to cause serious bodily injury to Barnett the night of his arrest.

Laurel Police Chief Tommy Cox said in a previous interview that Robertson and Gilbert, who the chief did not name at the time because of the ongoing investigation, were fired from the police department the day after the incident.

Barnett filed a civil rights complaint against Robertson, Gilbert, the City of Laurel, Mayor Johnny Magee, late Police Chief Tyrone Stewart, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and other unnamed defendants three days after Robertson and Gilbert were fired.

The federal lawsuit claimed Barnett was "brutally assaulted and publicly tortured" on the side of the road in Jasper County.

The case was dismissed on Nov. 15, 2019, after Barnett, Gilbert and Robertson reached a settlement.

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