May 10, 2023

Appeals Court knocks down Hinds County Court findings against Officer Rakasha Adams

Therese Apel

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has overturned the Hinds County Circuit Court’s findings in the case of Jackson Police Officer Rakasha Adams.

Adams and Officer Albert Taylor were on shift in January of 2018 when they saw a vehicle run a stop sign and run another car off the road. Adams turned on her blue lights to pull the vehicle, driven by Crystalline Barnes, over. The car didnt’ stop.

Adams followed the vehicle at speeds of 10-20 miles an hour through the streets of Jackson for about four minutes. When the car driven by Barnes encountered another police car, both officers got out. They testified that it appeared Barnes was trying to strike Taylor with her vehicle.

Both officers fired their guns at the car, and Barnes was killed. Jackson Police Department suspended them for 90 days without pay for engaging in a “pursuit” while Jackson had a “no-pursuit policy.”

Jurors ruled in 2022 that Adams and Taylor did use excessive force in that case, though they were covered by qualified immunity, meaning the officers cannot be held liable for what occurs unless those actions violate clearly-established law.

On Tuesday, the appeals court issued the following without opinion:

After reviewing the record, we find that the circuit court erred by upholding the Civil Service Commission’s finding that Officer Adams was engaged in a “pursuit.”

The clear and substantial evidence was uncontradicted and proved that there was no pursuit. Therefore, we find the Commission’s findings were not supported by substantial evidence and were arbitrary and capricious, and we reverse the circuit court’s judgment and remand the case to the Commission for a determination of restitution consistent with this opinion.

Adams and Taylor were among a rash of front-line Jackson police officers punished, reprimanded, or indicted by the Hinds County District Attorney’s office from the period surrounding 2018.

Most have been cleared, but Anthony Fox, known to be one of the best narcotics officers on the streets of Jackson, was convicted of manslaughter in a controversial trial during the Summer of 2022 in which four medical experts and several police officers who were on the scene that day testified that his actions did not lead to the death of George Robinson.

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