OXFORD • The family of a woman allegedly killed by an Oxford police officer will file suit against Oxford and the Oxford Police Department.
While the criminal investigation into Matthew Paul Kinne and a separate investigation of the Oxford Police Department have not been completed, the attorney for the family of Dominique Lashelle Clayton said they are ready to move forward with a federal lawsuit in the coming months.
“The AG’s office continues to investigate and so does MBI,” said Grenada-based attorney Carlos Moore, representing Clayton’s mother, Betsy Clayton. “We are anxiously awaiting the results of those investigations.
“But my investigation is complete. We have determined that we will file suit. We have already put them on notice.”
In early June, Moore sent notice of claim letters to the city of Oxford and the Oxford Police Department demanding $5 million. If the city – or Oxford’s liability insurance carrier – cannot reach a settlement with Clayton’s family within a mandated 90-day period, Moore intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
“The earliest we can file suit is September,” Moore said.
Former Oxford policeman Kinne, 38, has been jailed since late May, charged with murder in the shooting death of Clayton, 32.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was called in to not only process the crime scene but to also handle the criminal investigation as an outside agency. Investigators with Attorney General Jim Hood’s office are handling the internal affairs investigation of Kinne and OPD.
The family alleges that Kinne was on duty and in his Oxford Police Department uniform when he entered Clayton’s home and shot her on May 19. Kinne was arrested the next day and charged with murder and has been held without bond in the Panola County Jail since his arrest. He is represented by Ashland-based attorney Tony Farese.
Kinne, who is married, and Clayton were involved in a sexual relationship. Her family said the relationship was well-known and Kinne was paying both her house and car payments. According to Moore, while working nights, Kinne would visit Clayton’s 1009 Suncrest Drive home in the Brittany Woods subdivision.
Clayton believed she was pregnant and told Kinne. In the days before her death, Kinne reportedly visited the house unexpectedly. He later forced Clayton to get rid of her dogs three days before she was killed, Moore said.
In addition to Kinne’s actions, Moore claims other members of the police department added to the emotional distress by spreading rumors that Clayton had committed suicide, even though a gun was not found at the scene.
Even though Moore plans to sue Oxford and OPD, city hall and the interim police chief have been big supporters of the family. Mayor Robyn Tannehill has publicly offered her condolences and met with the family privately.
In the days following Clayton’s death, interim Police Chief Jeff McCutchen condemned Kinne’s actions.
“We are with the Clayton family,” McCutchen said. “We don’t want a bond. Matthew Kinne committed murder and we do not want him out. He needs to be in jail.”