STONEWALL, Miss. — Residents of a small Mississippi town are looking for answers after an unarmed man died after he was allegedly placed in a chokehold by a police officer.
Local officials told a community meeting in Stonewall on Tuesday that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI could hold a news conference in coming days to fill in some of the gaps in the official account of the July 8 death of Jonathan Sanders.
Sanders, a horse trainer, was riding a horse and buggy when he crossed paths with Stonewall police Officer Kevin Herrington. Witnesses say Sanders was thrown from his horse when the police lights startled the animal, WAPT reported.
Herrington allegedly then grabbed Sanders by the headlamp he was wearing and put him into a chokehold.
Chokwe Antar Lumumba, lawyer for Sanders’ family, says relatives believe police are at fault. Lumumba said he was notified by several witnesses that Sanders was held in a chokehold for more than 20 minutes as a bystander offered to perform CPR.
“The only thing witnesses ever heard Jonathan Sanders say is, ‘I cannot breathe,'” said Lumumba.
According to the Daily News, the preliminary results of an autopsy show that Sanders was strangled to death.
Clarke County District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell says the investigation may not be complete until August or later.
Sanders’ death comes just days before New York City reached a $5.9 million settlement with the family of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Garner’s death was caught on video and sparked worldwide outrage as Garner pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.