Civil Rights Division Emmett Till Act (Cold Case Closing Memoranda)

Civil Rights Division Emmett Till Act (Cold Case Closing Memoranda)


Displaying 1 - 10 of 118
Title Incident Date Overview
Clyde Briggs January 18, 1965

On January 16, 1965, Reverend Clyde Briggs, a veteran, church leader, and civil rights advocate, was admitted to the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Jackson, Mississippi for several underlying medical conditions. Briggs’ condition deteriorated over the course of his hospitalization and he was pronounced dead on January 18, 1965 following an emergency tracheostomy.

Anthony Adams November 6, 1978

On November 6, 1978, the body of Anthony Adams, a 25-year-old African-American gay man, was discovered in his apartment in Salt Lake City, Utah.  After failing to hear from him for several days, two friends went to Adams’ apartment and discovered his body, naked and stabbed numerous times.  His apartment was in disarray and cash was missing from his wallet.

Eddie Cook November 7, 1965

On November 7, 1965, Eddie Cook, a 53-year-old sanitation worker and father of three, was shot in the chest by a shotgun blast near his home in the midtown section of Detroit, Michigan.  The shot was fired from a car filled with four or five white youths.  At the time, the police believed that the shot was in retaliation for an unrelated incident earlier that day.  Despite a thorough, contemporaneous investigation, the Detroit Police Department did not identify who fired the shot that killed Mr. Cook, or any of the passengers of the car.  

Jo Etha Collier May 25, 1971

Jo Etha Collier, an African-American young woman and recent high school graduate, was fatally shot by XXXXX in Drew, Mississippi, on the evening of May 25, 1971.  XXXXX and two other men – XXXX (XXXX) and XXXX (XXX XXX) – were driving past Ms. Collier when she was shot and killed.  The state arrested the three men and charged them with murder.  XXXXX was tried before a jury in October 1971, convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.  The state later dropped the charges against XXXX and XXXX.  For the reasons stated more fully below, this matter should be closed without prosecution or referral.  The statute of limitations has long run on any federal civil rights crime and Ms. Collier’s death does not implicate any other federal crimes.  Referral to the state for prosecution is inappropriate because the Double Jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution would bar a subsequent state prosecution of XXXXX, and because the state previously determined that XXXX and XXXX could not be held legally responsible for the shooting. 

Lee Edward Culbreath December 5, 1965

On December 5, 1965, Lee Edward Culbreath, a 14-year-old African-American boy, was killed in Portland, Arkansas, by Ed Vail, who shot at Culbreath from a truck driven by his brother, James.   

Elbert Williams June 20, 1940

     On June 20, 1940, Elbert Williams and Thomas Davis, both African-American men who were members of the NAACP in Brownsville, Tennessee, were abducted from their homes by Sheriff Samuel “Tip” Hunter, taken to the local jail, and questioned about the NAACP’s activities.  Thomas Davis was released from jail into a waiting mob, but escaped unharmed.  Williams’s body was discovered three days later, on June 23, 1940, in the Hatchie River.  Just a few days before Williams and Thomas Davis were abducted, Thomas’s brother Elisha Davis had been abducted from his home by Sheriff Hunter, Police Officer Charles Reed, and a mob of white men.  Elisha Davis was taken to a nearby river where he was questioned about the NAACP’s activities and told he would be killed unless he left town, which he did immediately.  Another African-American man, Jack Adams, was brought to the river at the same time that Elisha Davis was threatened, but Adams was released unharmed.  The men subject to abduction were all either founding members, or suspected members, of the recently-formed NAACP chapter in Brownsville.  Chapter members had begun voter-registration efforts in the African-American community just a few months before the abductions began.

Louis Allen January 31, 1964

     On January 31, 1964, Louis Allen (Allen), an African-American male born April 25, 1919, was murdered in his driveway as he was opening the gate to his home in Amite County, near Liberty, Mississippi.  Allen suffered extensive trauma from three shotgun blasts to the head.  Allen’s body was discovered shortly after midnight by his XXX, XXXXX (XXXXX) and his XXXX, XXXXX (XXXXX).  XXXXX and XXXXX immediately drove to the home of Amite County Sheriff, Daniel Jones (Jones), advised Jones of their discovery and requested Jones’ assistance.  Jones contacted Dr. Bridges (Bridges), informed him that Allen had been shot, and asked that Bridges accompany him to the Allen residence. 

Ollie Shelby, Jr. January 22, 1965

According to contemporaneous articles in the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger newspaper, on January 22, 1965, Ollie Shelby, Jr., the 18-year-old African-American victim, was shot and killed by Hinds County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) Deputy E.O. Sanderford, the subject, at the Hinds County Jail.  The victim had been transferred to the jail after being charged with making an obscene gesture at a white woman.  At a local Coroner’s Inquest, Jackson Police Department (JPD) XXXXXXX testified that, on the day of the shooting, he and XXXXXXX were transferring the victim and six other inmates from the city to the county jail.  According to XXXXX, the victim first tried to escape by pushing XXXXX out of the jail elevator.

James Earl Motley November 20, 1966

On November 20, 1966, at approximately 3:30 a.m., James Motley, the 27-year-old African-American victim, died in the Elmore County jail (the jail) as a result of head injuries.  Earlier that morning, Elmore County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) Deputy Harvey Conner, the subject, had stopped the car in which the victim was a passenger for a traffic violation.  During the course of the traffic stop, the victim told the subject that he did not have jurisdiction because the traffic violation had occurred in a different county.  The subject was reportedly offended by this comment and ordered the victim to exit the vehicle.  The victim complied, whereupon the subject hit the victim in the head several times with a slapjack or similar object. 

Hilliard Brooks August 12, 1950

On August 12, 1950, Montgomery Police Department (MPD) Officer Marvin Mills, the white subject, fatally shot Hilliard Brooks, the 22-year-old African-American victim, in the abdomen on a crowded street in Montgomery, Alabama.  The victim died from his injuries the following day.  According to media reports, the shooting occurred at approximately 3:45 p.m., after the victim created a disturbance on a bus and used foul language in front of female passengers.  The bus driver requested assistance from the subject, who was patrolling nearby as a traffic officer.


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