Killing of Claude Otis Johnson in Mississippi in 1953


Case summary

Claude Otis Johnson (1919 - 1953), a tenant farmer, was killed by justice of the peace John Thomas in Bolivar County, Mississippi. Thomas, a store owner, claimed that Johnson hit him during a dispute over a $37.50 grocery bill. As Johnson left the store, Thomas grabbed his gun, followed Johnson and shot him. He alleged that Johnson attacked him. Thomas was indicted, tried and acquitted in state court. There were no federal proceedings. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: [ ]

Date of incident: 1953-04-25
Location: Benoit, Bolivar County, Mississippi
Location type: private space - commercial
Allegation against victim: dispute over a grocery bill; fighting a white man

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: yes
Finding of no legal responsibility: yes

Criminal process
Arrest: yes
Charge/indictment/information: [ ]
Grand jury: yes
Trial: yes
Conviction: no
Sentence: [ ]

FBI case ID:

Memphis 44-284

New Orleans 44-520

Bureau 44-5993

DOJ case ID:


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