July 14, 2004
FBI granted access to JPD officers' battery trial
Jimmie E. Gates
One former officer says order is payback for his suit
By Jimmie E. Gates
Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger has ordered court officials to turn over evidence to the FBI from the 2001 trial of two Jackson police officers acquitted in 2001 of a sexual-battery charge.
The FBI office in Jackson would neither confirm nor deny an investigation regarding Thomas Catchings and ex-officer Maceo Simmons.
Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn on Tuesday said FBI officials had already received some of the requested material.
Simmons, a patrolman in Precinct 3 at the time he was charged, says he thinks he is being targeted in a federal probe because of his attempt to get back pay from JPD and reinstatement onto the police force.
Simmons said he thinks the FBI is seeking to charge him with civil-rights violations, saying the FBI likely thinks he used his position as a policeman to violate the alleged victim's civil rights.
Catchings was allowed to return to duty after the acquittal. But Simmons was terminated about a year after the trial for conduct unbecoming of an officer, based on the sexual-battery allegation.
Simmons later went on military leave with the National Guard. Upon returning earlier this year, he said he began seeking back pay because he said the acquittal showed police had no cause to fire him.
"If they can get him found guilty, they won't have to pay four years of back salary," said Simmons' attorney, Kevin Camp.
Camp said a hearing had been scheduled, but it was delayed about two weeks ago on Simmons' claim for back pay.
Catchings couldn't be reached for comment.
JPD spokesman Robert Graham said the department would not comment about the case.
The unidentified woman at the center of the case couldn't be reached for comment. The Clarion-Ledger does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
The woman, 19 at the time of the alleged assault, said after a traffic stop Sept. 19, 1999, Simmons took her in his patrol car to a remote spot off Forest Avenue and sexually assaulted her while Catchings acted as a lookout.
She said she waited a year before filing a report because she was scared.
The officers were arrested in December 2000 and placed on administrative leave without pay.
They were acquitted in November 2001 of sexual battery and conspiracy to commit sexual battery.
Simmons, 48, had been on the force for three years at the time of the trial.
Catchings, 39, had been an officer five years.
Former Jackson police officer Maceo Simmons is awaiting a hearing on his request for back pay and reinstatement to the Jackson Police Department, said his attorney, Kevin Camp.
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