Family of Murdered Black Man Sues White Teens
James Anderson, an alleged hate crime victim, was run over by white teenagers.
Sept. 7, 2011— -- The family of a black man is suing a group of white teens from Mississippi who allegedly ran him over with a pickup truck in June.
The lawsuit claims seven white teenagers "set out on a mission to find and "f**k with some n*****s." When they found 48-year-old James Anderson in a motel parking lot, the complaint says, "several teenagers took turns beating him for an extended period of time, and then one of the teenagers drove over Mr. Anderson with a Ford F-250 truck."
The family is seeking unspecified damages arising from Anderson's injuries and death.
"If [the teens] were there they had the duty once they saw what was taking place to call police, to get out and aid Mr. Anderson, in some way prevent him from staggering around helplessly after he had been beaten," Morris Dees, chief legal counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said during a press conference Tuesday.
Dees has joined the lawsuit filed by the family's lawyer, Winston Thompson III, who works with The Cochran Firm in Jackson, Miss. Thompson told ABCNews.com he cannot comment on the pending litigation.
Anderson, an auto worker, was killed June 26 in Jackson, Miss. His murder received renewed attention when grisly surveillance video of his death surfaced in August.
"All of our information suggests that this is a case where these individuals sought out a black person to do harm to," Thompson said at Tuesday's press conference.
The video allegedly shows Deryl Dedmon, 19, and several of his friends beating Anderson, and then driving over his body.
Dedmon, who is accused of driving the pickup truck that lurched over Anderson's body in the video, is in jail without bond now that his charges have been upgraded to capital murder. He is awaiting a Sept. 26 preliminary hearing before the case goes to a grand jury.
Dedmon's friend, John Rice, who was at the scene during the beating, had originally been charged with murder. But during a preliminary hearing detectives testified that Rice, who is 18, left the parking lot before Anderson got run over. Rice was released on bail.
During the incident one of the teens could be overheard yelling "white power" and immediately after Anderson was run over, Dedmon allegedly told the other defendants he had "ran that n****r over."
Neither of the defendants' lawyers were immediately available for comment. It is unclear if the other five defendants have legal representation.
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith told ABCNews.com in August, "There were racial slurs used throughout the turn of events which led to the conclusion that it was most likely a hate crime."
The lawsuit names all seven teens involved in the incident. It's the first time all of their names have been released.
"They acted in concert, in agreement, as almost like a joint venture to seek out and do harm to Mr. Anderson," Thompson said.