Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Family of man who died in MPD custody demands transparency from department

By Tarvarious Haywood and Lydian Kennin

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – One week after a man died while in Memphis police custody, family and friends of 19-year-old Courtney Ross are demanding transparency in the investigation.

Friday, protestors met in front of the Memphis Police Department for those answers.

“We’re not blaming no one, I just want to know what happened. I just want answers,” said Courtney Allen, Ross’ father. “I pray every night that his soul would cry down to you guys. He was a citizen here. We love Memphis. I am Memphis.”

At Friday’s demonstration, protestors demanded one thing from MPD: to release body and dash camera video surrounding the 19-year-old’s death.

” Please… please help me. That ain’t right!” said Allen.

The August 11 incident happened near the intersection of Madison Avenue and South Auburndale Street in Midtown.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is now in charge of the case at the request of the Shelby County District Attorney.

Police say local residents reported a man going through boxes on their properties and looking in mailboxes.

19-year-old Courtney Ross (pictured) died Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, after he was detained for allegedly rummaging through mailboxes and other properties in Midtown. An ambulance was called after Ross appeared to be out of breath. Police say he was transported in critical condition to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.(Family)
19-year-old Courtney Ross (pictured) died Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, after he was detained for allegedly rummaging through mailboxes and other properties in Midtown. An ambulance was called after Ross appeared to be out of breath. Police say he was transported in critical condition to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.(Family)

Police located and chased Ross as a suspect. Officers reported Ross was resisting and out of breath from running.

He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“We don’t know anything. We are out of our mind, we are out of mind because we don’t know, and we want to know and nobody is giving us answers,” said Carolyn Laury, Ross’ grandmother.

Protestors say the only way to know the truth is through the police department releasing body cam footage.

“You don’t run him down. You talk to him and see what’s wrong. That’s all,” said Allen.

Courtney Allen, the father of 19-year-old Courtney Ross, consoled by Carolyn Laury, Ross’ grandmother(Action News 5)

Action News 5 asked the TBI whether or not they plan to release footage of the incident.

“This remains an active and ongoing investigation,” TBI responded in a statement. “Per state statute, TBI is unable to release any evidence in cases of this nature.”

We are still waiting on a comment from Memphis Police Department.

Ross’ family says they have retained national civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them.

“Another young Black man in Memphis has lost his life following an interaction with local police, and we are once again left with more questions than answers. Nothing can bring this young man back, but the truth about what happened that day can bring the family and community some measure of peace. The Memphis Police Department must immediately release the body and dash cam footage so this family, and this city’s residents, know the truth about what happened to Courtney. Accountability and transparency are paramount – Memphis can not move forward without it.”

Attorney Ben Crump

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