A member of Ricky Ball’s family spoke out on Thursday for the first time since former Columbus Police Department Officer Canyon Boykin was indicted in Ball’s shooting death.
Ernesto Ball, Ricky’s first cousin, joined Mississippi House District 41 Rep. Kabir Karriem on the Karriem and Company radio show to talk about the developments leading up to and after Boykin’s indictment. Ernesto spoke with local media after the radio segment.
Ernesto said he’s pleased “the wheels of justice” are moving with Boykin’s indictment, but added the case still has a long way to go. He said the Ball family has been troubled by the $20,000 bond — which Ernesto described as low — Mississippi 16th Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens set for Boykin.
Boykin posted bond the day he was arraigned.
He also sharply criticized the way Boykin’s plea and arraignment hearing was held in the judge’s chambers, away from the public eye.
“It makes me upset,” Ernesto said. “If it had been me or any other black male in the community, it would have been an open arraignment, and the bond definitely would have been higher than it was. It really puts a big question on the judicial system as a whole. It’s unfair and unjust.”
A Lowndes County grand jury indicted Boykin for manslaughter, finding he unnecessarily killed Ricky Ball on Oct. 16, 2015. Ricky Ball was shot after fleeing from the scene of a traffic stop.
An indictment is not a declaration of guilt — it means a grand jury has found sufficient evidence for the case to go to a jury trial.
Ernesto Ball said he hopes the case ultimately ends in Boykin’s conviction.
“I’m hoping we get a conviction on this,” he said. “Hopefully they will do it to the full extent of the law. I hope that whatever the penalty is for manslaughter, it needs to be done to the full extent of the law.”
If convicted, Boykin faces up to 20 years in prison.
Boykin is accused of shooting 26-year-old Ricky Ball following a traffic stop near the intersection of 21st Street North and 15th Avenue North. Boykin is white; Ball was black.
Ball, police said, was a passenger in the car being stopped and fled on foot.
He was subsequently shot twice, according to Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant. He was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle after officers found him on the ground roughly 1.5 blocks from the traffic stop site.
Authorities said a 9mm pistol was found nearby. State authorities, as part of their investigation, were conducting tests on the firearm to see if Ball possessed it at any time. The pistol, according to city officials, had been stolen from a CPD officer’s home in the months prior to Ball’s death.
Boykin did not turn his body camera on before or during the shooting incident. He also reportedly had an unauthorized passenger riding with him in his patrol car. After the incident, he also reportedly violated the city’s social media policy by making derogatory posts about African Americans, women and disabled people.
The city council fired Boykin two weeks after the incident. He has filed a federal lawsuit against the city for wrongful termination.
The Ball family has also filed an intent to sue the city for wrongful death.
‘The blue wall’
Both Karriem and Ernesto Ball also took issue with footage and photos that reportedly show law enforcement officers applauding in support of Boykin as he was led in handcuffs from the Lowndes County Courthouse after entering his plea.
Ernesto said the clapping made it seem like no one at the courthouse cared about his cousin’s life, adding he believes it’s very harmful to the efforts that have taken place since the Ball shooting to build a bridge between the community and law enforcement.
“I think that may have destroyed the foundation for that bridge to even be (built),” Ernesto said.
Karriem said the clapping revealed an issue that exists in law enforcement culture.
“Just being a private citizen, that was very alarming,” Karriem said. “It has nothing to do with race, and I want to make sure that’s clear. A lot of times when you bring up an issue the race card is pulled, but you have black officers doing that as well.
“It’s the culture that is so prevalent with law enforcement now — the blue wall,” he added. “We have to have a better relationship with the community and law enforcement, and I don’t think those actions are merited to build the relationship that is so needed in the community.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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