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March 15th, 2013
11:53 PM ET

KTH: No investigation after fatal hit and run

Two hit-and-run deaths in rural Mississippi just a few miles apart highlight a disturbing problem about data collection on possible hate crimes.

Last summer, 61-year-old African-American Sunday school teacher Johnny Lee Butts was hit and killed by an 18-year-old white driver. The teen told Panola County Sheriff deputies he thought he hit a deer but the driver's two passengers said he steered straight for Butts. One passenger said he could see that Butts was black. The killing has sparked outrage in the local African-American community. Civil rights groups have demanded that police prosecute Butts' killing as a hate crime.

Nonetheless, prosecutors chose not to.

There was no evidence, authorities said, to suggest a racial motive. The driver was charged with murder. He has not yet pleaded in the case.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. K Deitz

    Please stay on this, CNN. We have to be clear that mistreatment of any person is unacceptable.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
  2. Ed Camerino

    I am a family physician who never publically comments; but the behavior& words of the Sheriff is totally UNACCEPTABLE How is he still in his office? As Mr Cooper questioned: what century is he living in? The DOJustice needs to remove him immediately! This scenario is reminiscent of the Freedom Riders who went to Birmingham,AL & Jackson,MI when not even the Pres of the US nor the AG could persuade the "local authorities" to guarantee their safety. What century are we living in?

    March 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Kathy F

    OMG! This is straight out of "Mississippi Burning!" If the situation was not so tragic, the sheriff's 'stirring up trouble' remark would be laughable. And adding insult to injury, is the victim's mother's lax approach to the follow up regarding her son's death...unbelievable.

    March 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

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