An unarmed 11-year-old Black boy in Mississippi was shot by a police officer after he called 911 to report a domestic disturbance to try to protect his mother, his family’s attorney said.
The family of Aderrien Murry and the community in Indianola, Miss., are calling for the officer who shot him early Saturday morning to be fired. Aderrien was released from the hospital Wednesday after being placed on a ventilator and chest tube for a collapsed lung, fractured ribs and lacerated liver, Carlos Moore, the attorney representing the family, told The Washington Post.
The boy was given a cellphone by his mother and told to call the police during a domestic disturbance involving the father of another one of her children, Moore said. After the child called 911, an Indianola police officer who was identified by the attorney as Greg Capers “had his gun blazing” upon arrival at the home at around 4 a.m., Moore said.
When Nakala Murry, the boy’s mother, told the officer that no one in the house was armed, the officer yelled out that anyone in the home should come out with their hands up, Moore said.
Even though Aderrien adhered to the officer’s commands and had his hands up, Capers shot him in the chest, according to the family and Moore.
“His words were: ‘Why did he shoot me? What did I do?’ and he started crying,” the boy’s mother said at a news conference this week.
The Indianola Board of Aldermen voted this week to place Capers, who is also Black, on paid administrative leave while the case is investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. It’s unclear whether he will face additional discipline or possible termination.
“There’s no justification for what this officer did,” Moore told The Post. “Aderrien came within an inch of losing his life over the officer’s reckless actions.”
Neither Capers nor Indianola Police Chief Ron Sampson immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday morning. The Indianola Police Department confirmed to CNN that Capers was the officer involved in the shooting. Sampson told the Enterprise-Tocsin in Indianola that the shooting was “extremely tragic, on both sides.”
Bailey Martin, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, told The Post that the agency was not commenting on the case, but that it will share its findings with the Mississippi attorney general’s office once the probe is complete.
The shooting of the 11-year-old is another recent example in which police have responded to 911 calls by opening fire without reason or doing so at the wrong address.
In April, police officers in Farmington, N.M., were questioning whether they were at the right house shortly before they fatally shot an armed homeowner at what turned out to be the wrong address, according to body-camera video. Robert Dotson, 52, was killed on April 5, when officers showed up to the wrong house in response to a domestic violence call. Three officers who fired their weapons have been placed on paid administrative leave, and the fatal mix-up is being investigated by the New Mexico State Police.
There have been 1,079 people who have been fatally shot by police in the United States in the last 12 months, according to a Post database. So far, 407 people have been shot and killed by police in 2023, the database shows. Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population and are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans.
The incident began when the father of one of Murry’s children arrived at her home in Indianola at around 4 a.m. Saturday acting “irate,” she told reporters on Monday. She was concerned about the man’s behavior and feared something could happen, so she wanted to “to stop it right there” by having her son call 911 and his grandmother, she said at the news conference. Her daughter and 3-year-old nephew were also in the home at the time, she said.
“He called police and said his mother was afraid, but that the man did not have a gun,” Moore said.
When Capers arrived at the home on B.B. King Road, the officer knocked on the door before he started to kick it in, the attorney told The Post. After Murry told the officer that no one was armed, the mother told reporters that her son moved quickly into the living room with his hands up. She quickly realized her boy had been shot.
“He came from around the corner, and it was instant,” she said at the news conference. “It was instant.”
She added that it was impossible for Capers to “know if it was a man, boy, pig or cow” that he shot.
“He wouldn’t know, because he shot so fast,” she said.
Aderrien ran into his mother’s arms and she applied pressure to the gunshot wound in his chest, Moore said. Murry said Capers helped administer aid after shooting her son.
“He told me to move, but I wasn’t going to move,” she told reporters. “Blood was just coming out.”
The 11-year-old was airlifted to the intensive care unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center about 100 miles away in Jackson, Moore said. The attorney noted that the family wasn’t sure the boy was going to make it, but Aderrien is “back home now and blessed to be alive.”
Moore, the family’s attorney, is very familiar with Capers, who was previously named as the department’s “best officer.” Capers has not faced discipline after he was accused of using a Taser on Kelvin Franklin, another of Moore’s clients, when he was in handcuffs in December, according to the Jackson Advocate.
Moore said that even though the police chief and mayor have viewed the body-camera footage of the incident, there’s no indication that he or the boy’s family will be able to see it during the ongoing investigation. The attorney, who said he’s planning to file a federal lawsuit next week to obtain the footage, is hoping to eventually convene a grand jury on a charge of aggravated assault against the officer.
“We have a young, unarmed Black boy shot in the chest. [Capers] is a threat to the safety of the residents of Indianola,” Moore said. “He needs to face a grand jury of his peers for unnecessarily shooting this boy.”
Murry emphasized this week that what happened to her son is “not okay.”
“If a non-police-officer was to shoot someone, you know it’s not okay,” she said at the news conference. “When the police do it, they have protocol. He was trained. He knows what to do.”
Moore told The Post that Aderrien has been described as “a loving and kind young boy” who was only trying to protect his mother. The boy will be starting counseling on Friday, Moore said, but the incident and questions around why he was shot will stay with him for the rest of his life.
“We do believe he’s a strong young man and he will get through this, but it’s a lot to process,” the attorney said. “And he’s never going to trust the police again.”