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Fatal Encounter

Black Man’s Shooting Recalls Southern Wounds

TUPELO, Miss.--The blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror of the Ford Focus. The man behind the wheel, a 37-year-old African-American, pulled over, opened the door and sprinted into the Mississippi night.
Soon, a white police officer was giving chase on foot, accompanied by his police dog.
The officer would eventually find and fatally shoot the man, Antwun Shumpert, here on the evening of June 18, plunging this small city--famous globally as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, but known regionally as a beacon of relatively progressive racial attitudes--into what has become a tragically common American morass of anger, racial division and hard questions about the treatment of black men at the hands of the police.
Mr. Shumpert’s death poses another question: how to extract the truth from the familiar story lines and racial narratives that can alternately cast light on what happened or obscure it.
The controversy here has also been amplified by assertions, made by Mr. Shumpert’s defenders and repudiated by city officials, that his killing echoes some of the cruelest episodes of the South’s past.
The lawyer for Mr. Shumpert’s family, Carlos Moore, said that Mr. Shumpert was unarmed and that an attack by the police dog left his groin area “mutilated.” Mr. Shumpert’s hospital records describe damage to his groin as a result of a gunshot wound.
Even so, Mr. Moore last week displayed photos of Mr. Shumpert’s corpse in a news conference, including one that appeared to show a yawning tear where his scrotum met his inner thigh. Mr. Moore invoked the lynching of

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