Canyon Boykin, a white Mississippi police officer who fatally shot 26-year-old Ricky Ball in October 2015, has filed a racial discrimination suit against the City of Columbus. The officer alleges he was fired because "he is white and the deceased was black," the Guardian reports. Boykin, in a seven-page complaint against the city, argues his 14th Amendment rights were ignored in the wake of the shooting.
The officer says he has endured "lost income and mental anxiety and stress" since being fired, with the New York Daily News reporting that Boykin is currently seeking a reversal on his termination and related damages. Columbus officials, however, argue that Boykin's firing was not related to the death of Ball but to an allegedly racist Instagram post and a policy-breaking ride-along involving his significant other.
The details surrounding the shooting, and the department's recent personnel shake-up, have inspired Ball's family and local residents to seek better answers for what exactly happened during the October encounter between Ball and Boykin. For reasons not entirely clear, the department filed two different versions of the police report. The second report, obtained by the Guardian, completely omits the officer's alleged use of a Taser.
"One of these two reports is not true," Philip Broadhead, director of the criminal appeals clinic at the University of Mississippi, tells the Guardian. "For police officers to offer up this type of information in the form of an incident report as sworn law officers. It’s a violation of their oath." On the night of the shooting, Boykin and two other officers allegedly attempted to pull over a vehicle holding Ball for a faulty tag light. When Ball exited the vehicle, a foot chase was initiated that eventually resulted in the fatal encounter.
Though Columbus police are now claiming that Ball had obtained a weapon of his own by previously stealing a cop's gun, the supposed burglary wasn't reported until months after it allegedly happened. As noted by the Guardian, the paperwork confusion and the exit of several top police officials in the area has residents feeling skeptical about the entire incident. "The lawsuit is premature because [Boykin] has not exhausted his appeal rights," the Columbus city attorney tells the Dispatch. "We will address the allegations in due time."