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FBI opens civil rights probe into Mississippi black man's death

August 18, 2011 |  8:33 am

The FBI is investigating potential civil rights violations in the case of a 49-year-old black man who was fatally run over outside of a hotel near Jackson, Miss., by a white teenager in June, the Associated Press reports.

The slaying of auto worker James Craig Anderson, 49, garnered national attention after a surveillance video was released showing him being run over by a pickup truck that the Hinds County district attorney says was driven by an 18-year-old white man named Deryl Dedmon.

Mississippi authorities say Dedmon was part of a group of teenagers who had gone out looking to take revenge on a random black person because Dedmon had been robbed by an African American a few weeks earlier.

Dedmon is charged with murder. Another teenager, John Aaron Rice, is facing simple assault charges connected with the beating of Anderson before he was run over, but the AP says prosecutors will ask a grand jury to indict both teens on murder charges.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported Wednesday that the local district attorney, Robert Shuler Smith, would seek to prosecute the case using a 1994 Mississippi hate crime law.

Prosecutors allege that Anderson was subjected to racial slurs as he was being beaten, and that Dedmon later used a racial epithet to say he had just run over Anderson, the AP reported.

Rice's attorney has said that the teens were on a beer run on the morning of June 26, and not looking for a black person to assault.


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Photo: In this June 26 frame grab from a security video, people gather in a parking lot next to the Jackson, Miss., street where James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old black man, was allegedly run down by a pickup truck driven by Deryl Dedmon, a white teen. The incident, stoked in part by security camera footage showing Anderson being run over, is causing people across the country to sound off on social media pages created for and against the defendants. Credit: AP