James Barnett, the man suing the City of Laurel and two police officers for brutality, announced to the U.S. Southern District Court in Hattiesburg on Nov. 15 that he and the defendants had reached a settlement outside the courtroom, according to court filings.
With the case now thrown out, the year-long thread of legal drama involving Laurel Police Department officers Bryce Gilbert and Wade Robertson has been knotted off. It began May 16, 2018, on the side of a road in Jasper County, where the two officers stopped and allegedly “publicly tortured” Barnett.
“Defendants assaulted and physically tortured and verbally humiliated Mr. Barnett because Defendants were trained and indoctrinated with ‘unwritten, not for public acknowledgment or consumption’ executive and administrative policies, rules, procedures and orders from Defendants,” the lawsuit stated, strongly suggesting the incident was race-related.
Prior to being stopped, Barnett attempted to evade a police checkpoint. The two officers were fired from the department for their actions after an internal investigation.
"It was like I was coming up on a stop point," Barnett told media last year. "They were checking licenses on Highway 15, and I was headed home and me thinking I had a warrant or whatever, I turned around from the checkpoint and so they began to trail me. So, we ended up going on a high-speed chase (and) we ended up in Jasper County."
After his wounds were treated, Barnett was transferred to LPD, the Jones County Adult Detention Center and finally the LPD narcotics office, where he was interrogated without an attorney present, according to the lawsuit. He was charged with several misdemeanors.
Ridgeland attorney Dow Yoder filed a lawsuit against the officers and the LPD on Barnett’s behalf, claiming racial discrimination and the violation of civil rights. The lawsuit only represents one side of the legal argument.
Yoder did not return calls regarding the out-of-court settlement.
Robertson had previously been involved in several physical struggles leading up to Barnett's assault. Moreover, the former officer killed a woman on his property reportedly in self-defense just this week.
Dominique Henry, 30, allegedly beat on Robertson’s door Tuesday night before the latter found her attempting to steal his wife’s car. Robertson allegedly shot and killed her, according to sources familiar with the matter.