FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LEXINGTON, Miss. – Today, the ACLU of Mississippi and the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP filed a lawsuit against Sam Dobbins, the former Chief of Police of the Lexington, Mississippi Police Department, and against Charles Henderson, the current Chief of Police of the Lexington, Mississippi Police Department. The complaint alleges that Dobbins and Henderson violated Alexis Jew’s rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
As laid out in the complaint, on Thursday, December 14, 2021, Henderson used excessive force, wrongfully arrested, and imprisoned Ms. Jew on pretextual and fabricated grounds, in violation of her constitutional rights. While she was in custody, Dobbins told Ms. Jew she needed to make a cash payment to secure her release. At no time did Dobbins, Henderson nor anyone else explain to Ms. Jew the basis for this “fine,” nor did they offer her a bond to ensure her appearance at any future proceeding. The complaint goes on to allege the defendants later denied Ms. Jew her lawful right to contest her supposed charges and then falsified records to paper over the absence of legal process.
“Mr. Dobbins, Mr. Henderson, and the Lexington Police Department have to follow federal and state laws when policing. They failed that duty when they stopped, arrested, and jailed Alexis, and we are seeking justice for her,” said Joshua Tom, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
Lexington, a small town in Holmes County, is home to approximately 1,547 people, of which 86% are Black. The City has an extensive history of segregation and race-based socioeconomic stagnation. Residents have long suffered under the Lexington Police Department’s racially-motivated and discriminatory policing practices. The complaint, in Ms. Jew’s case, describes many instances of alleged police misconduct, as does a complaint we filed earlier this year on behalf of another victim, Javarius Russell.
The ACLU of Mississippi’s new initiative, the Police Accountability Project, is an effort to enlist law firms, private attorneys and community organizations to bring lawsuits to stop police violence and harassment. We are partnering with law firms across the country to represent people who have had their rights violated.
“The Lexington Police Department is supposed to serve and protect the community, yet under Dobbins’ and Henderson’s command, the LPD has terrorized and extorted the City’s Black residents,” said Stephen McIntyre, partner at O’Melveny. “No one should have to endure what Alexis suffered at the hands of law enforcement. It is time to put a stop to the LPD’s lawless and unconstitutional policing practices.”
The ACLU of Mississippi will continue this effort to bring the legal resources and talents of firms, like O’Melveny, and private attorneys to represent other victims of unconstitutional police misconduct. Too often police misconduct goes unchallenged and unredressed. We hope to change that in Lexington and across the state.
Read the full complaint below.