Note to readers: This story contains sensitive language that some may find offensive.
The family of James C. Anderson, a black man allegedly beaten by a gang of seven white teenagers who then mowed him down with a pickup truck in Jackson, Mississippi, filed a wrongful death lawsuit today.
The suit filed by the family’s attorney, Winston J. Thompson III, with cooperation from the Southern Poverty Law Center claims that after a night of drinking, the teenagers set out to "go fuck with some niggers." After finding Anderson, 49, in a motel parking lot early in the morning of June 26, the group set upon him, taking turns beating him as they yelled "White Power!", according to the lawsuit filed in Hinds County Circuit Court. Then, the suit continues, some of the crew ran him over with a Ford F-250.
Anderson's killing sparked a national outcry, and video of the beating captured by a nearby security camera was broadcast on CNN. The family is now seeking punitive damages.
"Anyone who knew James could see that he was a caring man with a beautiful smile," said Barbara Anderson Young, Anderson's eldest sister, in a statement released today. "He was such a compassionate person. We must take an honest look at the racial climate that motivated some young people to hurt such a wonderful person."
Of the seven teens that the lawsuit alleges were involved in Anderson's killing –- Deryl Dedmon Jr., John Aaron Rice, William Kirk Montgomery, Sarah Graves, Shelbie Richards, John Blaylock and Dylan Butler -- only Dedmon, 19, and Rice, 18, have been charged by authorities.
Dedmon has been charged with capital murder and robbery. Rice has been charged with simple assault.
"The whole world saw the brutal attack that James Anderson suffered at the hands of people who simply wanted to hurt someone of a different race," said Thompson. "We cannot ignore such cold-hearted cruelty."
The lawsuit details a liquor-fueled gathering of teens: “During one of the gatherings, Defendants joined together to, in Dedmon's words, go fuck with some niggers."
They then piled into two vehicles, a green Ford F-250 driven by Dedmon and a white Jeep Cherokee driven by Montgomery, and headed for Jackson, according to the lawsuit.
The group in the Jeep noticed a black man, who turned out to be Anderson, in the parking lot of the Metro Inn and called Dedmon to the scene. Some of the teens stayed in the vehicles as lookouts, while Dedmon, Rice, Butler and Blaylock got out and approached Anderson, the lawsuit claims. Soon after, the attack was on.
"At one point, a Defendant yelled White Power!" according to the suit.
After the beating, the group in the Jeep drove off, it continues. But Dedmon and others in the Ford headed out of the parking lot and drove head-on into Anderson, who was stumbling through a grassy area near the motel's entrance.
According to the lawsuit: "After hitting Anderson, Dedmon immediately informed the other Defendants that he had ran that nigger over."
"James Anderson lost his life for no other reason than the color of his skin," said Morris Dees, chief trial counsel for the SPLC in a statement. "Those responsible must be held accountable for their callous and deadly actions. We are filing this lawsuit today to ensure his family gets a measure of justice."
The suit includes claims of battery, negligence and wrongful death.
According to reports, Dedmon's attorney, Lee Agnew, said during a court hearing in July that he has seen nothing to back up any "racial allegations."