Civil Rights Lawyer Still in Jail for Recording Traffic Stop by Cops She’s Already Suing

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By The Vanguard

JACKSON, MS – A Mississippi civil rights lawyer was arrested Saturday after filming a traffic stop conducted by officers from a police department she is suing in federal court, according to the Associated Press.

Jill Collen Jefferson is the president of JULIAN, the civil rights organization that filed a federal lawsuit last year against the Lexington Police Department on behalf of a group of city residents. 

Michael Carr, Jefferson’s attorney, told The Associated Press “she was arrested late Saturday evening after she filmed officers after they pulled someone over.” 

“Jefferson was arrested nine days after Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division traveled to Lexington to meet with community members about allegations of police brutality in the small town,” noted the AP.

Jefferson’s lawsuit, the AP adds, “claims police have subjected Lexington residents to false arrests, excessive force and intimidation.”

Police “terrorized” Black residents in a small Mississippi town by subjecting them to false arrests, excessive force and intimidation, according to JULIAN, which sought a temporary restraining order against the Lexington Police Department to demand protection for the town’s largely Black population.  

“It’s both unconscionable and illegal for Lexington residents to be terrorized and live in fear of the police department whose job is to protect them,” said Jefferson last year as president and founder of JULIAN. “We need both the courts and the Department of Justice to step in immediately.”

The AP added the lawsuit last year came after JULIAN said “it obtained an audio recording in July of then-Lexington Police Chief Sam Dobbins using racial slurs and talking about how many people he had killed in the line of duty. 

“As an advocate for her clients, Jill Jefferson believes that this pattern and practice has happened to citizens in Lexington,” Carr said. “Through this experience, she is showing the state, the area and possibly the nation the corrupt practices of this city.”

Carr told AP “Jefferson complied with a request to produce identification and questioned why the officers had approached her as she filmed on a public street. She was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors: failure to comply, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”

Jefferson was booked in the Holmes County Jail, where she remains pending a court hearing, which hadn’t been scheduled as of Sunday morning.

Carr then added Police Chief Charles Henderson eventually agreed to release Jefferson without bail, without posting bond. But Jefferson wouldn’t pay a $35 processing fee levied by the jail to be released because she believes her arrest was unlawful and remains in jail, said the AP.

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