Aderrien Murry called 911 to help his mom. A police officer shot the 11-year-old as he complied with commands

‘I think they shot first and asked questions second. He doesn’t appear to be a man or anything, he’s a 4’10” little boy,’ Aderrien Murray’s lawyer tells Bevan Hurley

Wednesday 31 May 2023 16:00 BST
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At about 4am on 20 May, Nakala Murry handed her cellphone to her 11-year-old son Aderrien and asked him to call 911.

A former partner had showed up at her property on BB King Road in Indianola, Mississippi, in the middle of the night “irate”. She feared for the safety of her two young children and a nephew who were in the home.

Officers arrived at about 6am with their weapons drawn, and called on everyone in the house to come out, Ms Murry has said.

As Aderrien followed his mother around a hallway corner and into the family living room with his arms raised, an officer, identified as 2021 Indianola Policeman of the Year Greg Capers, shot him in the chest.

Family attorney Carlos Moore told The Independent that a week later, city officials were stonewalling their attempts to find answers.

“We’re asking ‘what did you see and why did you shoot’?” Mr Moore said in an interview on 26 May.

“I think they shot first and asked questions second. He doesn’t appear to be a man or anything, he’s a 4’10” little boy.

“There’s no way a trained officer should have feared for his life when an 11-year-old boy approaches with no weapon in his hands.”

Mr Capers has since been placed on administrative leave, but the police department is refusing to release his bodycam footage.

Indianola Mayor Ken Featherstone declined to provide the family with an explanation or an apology during a meeting on 25 May, Mr Moore said.

“It’s very cruel and inhumane,” he told The Independent.

‘He’s blessed’

Recalling the terrifying incident at a press conference last week, Nakala Murry said she awoke to find the father of one of her children knocking on her window early on the Saturday morning of 20 May.

She reached for her phone, woke Aderrien, and asked him to call her mother and the police.

Officers arrived within a few minutes with their weapons drawn, and started kicking at the door and ordered everyone to come out, Ms Murry said.

Nakala Murry speaks to Good Morning America about the police shooting of her son Aderrien

As her son followed her into the living room, complying with the officer’s commands, he was shot once in the chest by an officer standing in the front doorway.

Ms Murry said her son ran towards her and collapsed. She applied pressure to the wounds until first responders arrived, as blood seeped from his mouth.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see him,” she said.

Aderrien was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he was given a chest tube and placed on a ventilator.

He had suffered a collapsed lung, fractured ribs and a lacerated liver. Doctors would later tell the family that the bullet came within an inch of piercing vital organs.

“Why did he shoot me?” Aderrien kept asking his mother as he lay in hospital.

Family say Aderrien responded well to treatment and he was released from hospital on 24 May.

“He’s blessed. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Ms Murry said this week.

Mr Moore said he visited the boy at home on Thursday, and he was still traumatised, in pain and was having trouble breathing. Doctors were trying to strengthen his lungs, but the longterm prognosis was encouraging.

He said Aderrien was due to begin counseling on 26 May.

“He’s doing as well as can be expected,” Mr Moore told The Independent. “He’s fearful of the police, and he’s very disappointed the mayor’s not taking it seriously.”

‘Your “best” cop shot my baby’

At a heated rally outside the Indianola City Hall on 25 May, Ms Murry and Mr Moore stood beside a small group of protesters calling for “justice”, WLBT reported.

The protesters held signs stating “Your ‘best’ cop shot my baby,” “Fire Greg Capers now,” and “Release bodycam footage”.

Ms Murry and a group of eight family members met with Indianola town leaders for about 15 minutes.

“They didn’t answer any questions,” Mr Moore told The Independent.

“We asked for the mayor to give his regrets or say something to the family. He didn’t give anything. No answers to any of their questions.”

The Indianola Police Department referred media inquiries to the city attorney, who has not responded to a request for comment.

Apart from a Facebook Live event the day after the shooting, Mayor Featherstone has not commented publicly on the incident. He did not respond to several requests for comment by The Independent.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) said it had opened an investigation into the shooting.

In a statement, agency spokesman Bailey Martin told The Independent that “a minor occupant of the residence received significant injuries and has been transported to a local hospital”.

“MBI is currently assessing this critical incident and gathering evidence. Upon completing the investigation, agents will share their findings with the Attorney General’s Office.”

Mr Moore has demanded that the police chief and the officer be fired immediately, and is planning to file a federal civil lawsuit against the city of Indianola, and individual officers involved.

“If he’s your best, you need to clean house from top to bottom,” Mr Moore said during the week.

He has also and asked the Department of Justice to perform a Pattern-or-Practice Investigation of the police department to examine whether it was using “excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices”.

Mr Capers was placed on administrative leave at a meeting the Indianola Board of Aldermen days after the shooting.

‘Aderrien knows that the people are in his corner’

According to a Washington Post database, 1083 people have been fatally shot by police in the last 12 months.

Many hundreds more have suffered life-threatening injuries.

The latest shooting of an unarmed Black child by law enforcement has garnered headlines around the world, and attracted a groundswell of support for the family.

Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis shared a visual artist’s impression of the shooting.

Mr Moore told The Independent that the support was keenly felt by the Murry family, whose lives had been “upended” by the shooting.

“I believe the more pressure applied across the nation and the world, I believe they will have to bend at some point,” he said.

“Aderrien knows that the people are in his corner, and he’s appreciative of that. I’m making sure he’s aware of that.”

Indianola has a population of about 10,000 residents last year, a third of whom live below the poverty line, according to Census data. It lies about 100 miles north of Jackson, the state capital.

‘I can see myself laying inside the coffin’

Aderrien himself spoke out just over a week after the shooting, revealing that he has haunting visions of both the officer responsible and of himself lying dead in a coffin.

In an interview with CNN on 30 May, he detailed the lasting trauma of the incident as his family brought a $5m lawsuit for excessive force, negligence, reckless endangerment and civil assault and battery.

“Sometimes, I can see myself laying inside the coffin. Those are my thoughts at night, my only ones,” he said.

“Sometimes I think people are watching me. But my main thought is me dead, inside the coffin.”

The young boy said he also has visions where he can see Indianola Police Officer Greg Capers – the man who pulled the trigger on him that day – “standing inside corners” of dark rooms, “just staring at me”.

“I could have lost my life. All because of you,” he said in a message to the officer calling for his firing.

“I want you terminated for what you did to me.”

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