JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - ”We don’t want anything to do with a bad cop and if I thought these guys were bad cops, we wouldn’t have hired them.”
Those are the words of Clinton Police Chief Ford Hayman, who along with Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher, was at the Hinds County Courthouse for support when officers Desmond Barney and Lincoln Lampley pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder in the January 2018 death of George Robinson.
Robinson died two days after being arrested and released by three officers, all of whom worked for JPD at the time. District Attorney Jody Owens says Robinson died from having his head slammed on the concrete. Attorneys for the officers dispute that theory based on investigations, expert analysis, and testimony from witnesses, they say.
Desmond Barney and Lincoln Lampley both appeared before Judge Faye Peterson Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Both pled not guilty.
Lampley is still employed at JPD, while Barney and Anthony Fox, both left JPD to work for Clinton. Mayor Fisher says the City has their backs.
“They’re going to stay on salary, they’re going to stay busy, and we’re going to go through this process and I hope the press will spend as much time in the exoneration process as they have in the accusing process,” Fisher said.
Fisher also told reporters to look deep into the relationships involved in a civil lawsuit against the city on behalf of the Robinson family and the charges of second-degree murder in a case where the officers have already been cleared by Jackson Police Department Internal Affairs and the FBI, among others.
“Frankly I’d call on the press to look into the family connection between Dennis Sweet and the DA,” Fisher said. “To see if there’s any tie there and any reason for any Christmas money or anything like that that they’re trying to pull this forward.”
District Attorney Jody Owens’s spokeswoman said he was unavailable to speak with us today and instead referred us to his August 14 press release.
Dennis Sweet did not return a message we left with his secretary seeking comment.
Barney and Lampley's plead-by date is December 21, with their court date set on January 25, 2021. Fox will be arraigned Friday at 9 a.m.
“When the facts come out, I think everyone is going to scratch their head and wonder how did this come about originally,” said Hayman.
All three officers were cleared by the FBI, Clinton Police Department and JPD Internal Affairs after investigations into the events surrounding the death of Robinson.