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A boy, 11, called police in Mississippi. A cop shot him

Aderrien Murry was shot in the chest after police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home. The 11-year-old survived and is recovering.
Courtesy of Nakala Murry via AP
Aderrien Murry was shot in the chest after police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home. The 11-year-old survived and is recovering.

Aderrien Murry, 11, called 911 for help at his home in Indianola, Miss., last weekend. But after police arrived, an officer shot him in the chest. The boy is recovering, but his family is asking for answers — and they want the officer involved to be fired.

Aderrien's mother, Nakala Murry, says she told her son to call her mother and the police after the father of one of her other children appeared at their house in the early hours of Saturday, May 20. She was concerned for her safety, Murry said — but when police arrived, things went terribly wrong. An officer ordered people out of the home, and then shot Aderrien after he left his room, she said.

Her son doesn't understand what happened, Murry said. "His words to me were: 'Why did he shoot me? What did I do?' and he just started crying," she said at a news conference at Indianola City Hall earlier this week.

Family wants to see body camera footage

The Murry family wants police body camera footage of the incident released. At rallies in Indianola this week, they also called for both the officer who shot Aderrien and the police chief to be fired.

The officer involved is Sgt. Greg Capers, according to Murry's attorney, Carlos Moore. Indianola City Attorney Kimberly Merchant confirmed the name to local newspaper The Enterprise-Tocsin this week, saying he has been removed from active duty.

"No child should ever be subjected to such violence at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve," Moore said on Thursday.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, in which it says a minor "received significant injuries." The agency provided few details in response to a request from NPR, citing the ongoing gathering of evidence.

Several Indianola officials, including Mayor Ken Featherstone, did not respond to NPR requests for comment about the shooting incident.

What happened on May 20

Nakala Murry says two police officers came to her home on BB King Road in Indianola after she asked her son to call 911. Her child's father had come to the house, and she realized he was "irate," she said. Worried about what could happen, she gave her son a phone and told him to call for help. That brought the police.

"The officers never came all the way inside of the home," Murry said, adding that the police officers stayed just outside the doorframe. A light was on in the living room just inside the door, she added.

The police asked everyone inside to come out with their hands up, Murry said. She added that authorities were told twice that no one had a gun in the house — once by her son on his 911 call and again by herself, speaking to officers at the door.

But when an empty-handed Aderrien came from his room into the living room, Murry says the officer — who already had his gun out, Murry said — shot him. Her son was running, she said, and he was shot in an instant.

She rushed to help her son, putting her hands on his wound to try to stop the blood flowing out. The officer also tried to render aid, and police called an ambulance. Aderrien was taken to a hospital, where he was put on a ventilator. His injuries include a collapsed lung, a fractured rib and a lacerated liver, Murry said.

"This cannot keep happening," she said, referring to the police use of deadly force. "This is not OK."

"My baby almost lost his life," Murry said. "It was scary, it's traumatic," she added, noting that two other children were also in the house at the time. In the aftermath of her son being shot, Murry said, no one from the city reached out to her.

Where things stand now

When the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation finishes its inquiry, "agents will share their findings with the Attorney General's Office," press secretary Bailey C. Martin told NPR.

To her, Murry says, the key issue in this case isn't race — Murry, Aderrien and Capers are all Black — but police training and attitudes.

"You're here to protect and serve," Murry said. "In this case, we didn't feel protected. We felt like victims."

In the U.S., police are more likely to use fatal force on Black people than any other ethnic group, according to Statista — which notes that fatal police shootings have continued on a worrying upward trend.

In another high-profile case in Mississippi involving police use of force, the city of Jackson released police footage on Wednesday from a New Year's Eve incident in which three officers repeatedly shocked a Black man with stun guns. That man, Keith Murriel, 41, died in custody.

The now-former officers were recently indicted; in that case, the city withheld body-cam footage until the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation completed its investigation.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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