PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - An appeals court upheld a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against a Petal police officer who fatally shot a Louisiana man after responding to a wreck in 2017.
On Monday, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the September decision by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett that Petal Police Department officer Aaron Jernigan was justified in shooting Marc Davis, of LaPlace, La.
Davis was involved in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Evelyn Gandy Parkway and Leeville Road on the morning of June 2, 2017. Jernigan responded to the scene.
According to the ruling, witnesses testified Davis rushed the officer and reached for Jernigan’s gun, leading to an altercation. Civilians at the scene helped subdue Davis and remove his hand from the officer’s holster.
Jernigan ordered the civilians to back away and for Davis to stay on the ground, but Davis did not comply and began to move toward the officer, according to court documents.
After warning Davis not to come any closer, Jernigan shot Davis three times. Davis died at Forrest General Hospital.
Petal Mayor Hal Marx said the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation looked into the shooting and determined Jernigan acted appropriately.
Yoshanta Albert, the widow and mother of Davis’ children, filed a lawsuit against the City of Petal, former police chief Leonard Fuller and Jernigan. The lawsuit claimed the officer used excessive force and violated Davis’ constitutional rights.
The lawsuit was dismissed after Starrett ruled that Jernigan was protecting himself when he shot Davis.
Davis’ mother, Catherine Davis, joined protesters outside Petal City Hall on May 30 following comments made by Marx on the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Catherine Davis claimed her son was seeking medical attention when Jernigan shot him.
Protesters also cited the shooting in calls for Petal Police Department officers to be equipped with body cameras.