RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – On Tuesday, a journalist with Insider, Inc., and counsel from the Mississippi Center for Justice sued the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD).

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Rankin County Chancery Court, claims the department unlawfully withheld public records about the deaths of three men who were in custody.

“When our state’s public records law is violated, the victims are all Mississippians,” said Paloma Wu, an attorney for the plaintiff from the Mississippi Center for Justice. “In this case, a law enforcement agency has refused to provide public records–incident reports–about the deaths of men they held or pursued. The injury to Mississippians is twofold: loss of access to records belonging to the public, and loss of trust in an agency sworn to uphold the law.”

According to court documents, the journalist requested incident reports for the deaths of Damien Cameron, Shannon McKinley, Cory Jackson and Robert Rushton. The suit said the department denied three out of the four requests explaining they would not release the incident reports due to an investigation that was underway.

The Mississippi Center for Justice and attorney John F. Hawkins of Hawkins Law, P.C. are representing Insider, Inc., in this case.

The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement about the lawsuit.

Today the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office received notice of a lawsuit filed in Rankin County Chancery Court by Insider, Inc. The RCSO plans to defend the lawsuit vigorously and plans to be victorious in that defense. The RCSO believes in transparency and all cases named in the Insider lawsuit were turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation on the date of the incident so an outside agency could present their findings following their own independent investigation.

The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office