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Civil and Human Rights Organization Leaks Incriminating Audio of Police Chief

Civil and Human Rights Organization Leaks Incriminating Audio of Police Chief

The chief is heard confessing to 13 killings, while using racist and homophobic slurs


LEXINGTON, MS— Sunday, in the sleepy town of Lexington, Mississippi, a former police officer handed over crucial audio to JULIAN, a civil rights and international human rights organization. In that audio, the white police chief of the predominantly Black town can be heard saying, “ni———“ and telling an officer on his force that he wouldn’t care if the officer “killed a motherfucker in cold blood.” In the nearly 17-minute recording, Chief of Police Sam Dobbins continues, telling the officer that he has killed 13 people, even shooting one man 119 times. Unaware that the conversation was being recorded, Dobbins relished in the fact that the community “fears” him.


Lexington is a tiny town in Holmes County, Mississippi—one of the poorest counties in the nation. Lexington is home to less than 1800 people—approximately 1500 of whom are Black and 300 are white. But in this overwhelmingly Black town, the mayor is white. The police chief is white. The judge is white. The town is run by a powerful white family, and the police, led by Chief Sam Dobbins, are targeting, harassing, and assaulting Black citizens. The crisis reached a boiling point after the community held a town hall meeting with support from MS NAACP, Holmes County Freedom Democratic Party, OneVoice, ACLU-MS, Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign, and a host of churches and other organizations. The community came together to learn about their rights and express their grievances against the police. But less than 24 hours later, police took the three most outspoken attendees into custody. Community members have said that they are “scared to death” of the police.


Residents have filed complaints with the mayor and board of aldermen, but the officers’ targeting, harassment, threats, assaults, and false arrests have not stopped.


Cardell Wright, JULIAN’s paralegal and the president of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, obtained the audio from the former officer. Wright said of the recording, “Listening to this further validates what the community has been highlighting since Dobbins was hired. The remarks he made are appalling, racist, hateful, and detrimental to the welfare of the people. This recording proves that the oppressors no longer wear white sheets, but they wear law enforcement uniforms.”


According to data compiled by JULIAN and ACLU-Mississippi, the Lexington police force has repeatedly violated at least the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.


According to victim accounts, police, in one instance, broke down a woman’s door without a warrant, maced her, arrested her for no reason without Mirandizing her, and hosed her down from head to toe with a fire hose, before leaving her outside. She is in her 60s. It was cold that night, and she had on nothing but a nightgown.


In another instance, police arrested a young Black man for possession because he had the equivalent of Tylenol in his car, something his uncle, a war veteran, kept in the car for pain. Officers then called for the car to be towed and roughed up the tow truck driver when he tried to help the victim. These are only two accounts out of scores.


In response to questions raised by JULIAN and ACLU-MS in a meeting with Lexington’s City Attorney, Katherine Barrett, Barrett explained away the violations by saying that police were trying to help the woman by washing out her eyes when they hosed her. She went on to say that the tow truck driver was “drunk off his ass” and could have been arrested, but the police were being lenient. It is worth noting that witnesses at the scene deny that the tow truck driver was intoxicated. They went as far as to say that not only was he not intoxicated but that he maneuvered the large tow truck with “precision.”


JULIAN is actively managing the crisis, strategizing and coordinating litigation, organizing, and advocacy for a coalition that includes JULIAN, ACLU-MS, People’s Advocacy Institute, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the Mississippi Bail Fund, and a fleet of private defense attorneys who are working for free or reduced rates.


Lexington’s police department and court clerks have repeatedly stonewalled attorneys‘ attempts to obtain information about their clients’ cases, even going as far as lying to attorneys, telling them that there would be no court but then bringing their clients before the judge the following day. Attorneys who showed up to court anyway have been locked out of the courthouse while the police force stood guard outside.


In one instance, Chief Sam Dobbins physically blocked JULIAN’s founder, Attorney Jill Collen Jefferson, a Black woman, from entering the courtroom and threatened to arrest her when she would not leave. Jefferson called the Mississippi state attorney general’s office, but the AG’s office claimed they did not have jurisdiction. Notably, the brother and law partner of Lexington’s city attorney Katherine Barrett had donated tens of thousands of dollars to the attorney general’s campaign.


JULIAN has reached out to the U.S. Attorney and the FBI regarding the Lexington police crisis, requesting a formal investigation.


This audio comes on the heels of the Mississippi legislature quietly passing a controversial bill—HB 957 during the 2022 Legislative Session. The bill, now codified in MS Code Ann 45-1-6, places the decision of whether or not officers can be criminally charged in shooting cases in the hands of the conservative state attorney general Lynn Fitch.

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