James Eric Perkins was issued an involuntary manslaughter warrant in connection with Marquis Brown’s death nearly a month after the Phenix City man died from blunt-force trauma sustained in the Jan. 31 brawl outside Outlaws Saloon. The Brown family believes that warrant should have been issued much sooner.
Attorney Katonga Wright, who represents the family, said the case should have been “wrapped up” 48 hours after Brown was assaulted around 3 a.m. in the parking lot of the 6499 Veterans Parkway bar.
Officials confirmed that there were at least 40 potential witnesses in the case. The attorney believes police were given witness accounts and video evidence that should have led to an earlier arrest of Perkins, who is currently being held in another Georgia county jail on an unrelated charge.
“They have video evidence that there was a bouncer, who has now been identified as Eric Perkins, who assaulted Mr. Brown and caused his death,” Wright said. “For whatever reason, they chose not to initiate an arrest early on in this investigation.”
Nikita Bell, Brown’s mother, said she’s determined to get answers on the matter.
“I would like to get answers from the police department about why that was, and I will get answers no matter what extremes I have to take to get it,” Bell said.
Wright said she’s been asked whether the investigation would have been handled differently if “the shoe had been on the other foot.”
“That’s a tough question to answer,” Wright said, “because we’ve had plenty of examples of how things have happened and this is just one of those examples of differences in how justice is administered.”
Wright said Brown’s family is “very concerned with the nature of how the investigation has happened.”
It seems to be that probable cause for some people in some cases is very, very low where in others it seems to be a tremendous burden before the police feel they have enough witnesses and enough evidence to make an arrest.
Attorney Katonga Wright
It was the family’s concern that drove them to get an independent autopsy conducted after the police released a statement saying that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations crime lab’s autopsy indicated the following:
• Brown’s head injury was ruled to be the type of wound that you would receive from your head striking a large, immovable flat object. This was determined by the type of external wound as well as the internal injuries to the front of Brown’s brain.
• There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever struck by a flashlight or any other metal object.
• There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever kicked or struck in the head.
• There was no physical evidence that Brown was ever choked or strangled.
Wright said the second autopsy was more consistent with the account that Brown was struck with a flashlight, a statement that the police dismissed based on their evidence.
“It appears that the results of the second autopsy are more consistent with blunt-force trauma of that nature versus just a fall on a flat surface,” Wright said. “We know that if he did fall, it’s definitely not a flat-surface fall.”
Columbus Police Maj. Gil Slouchick said detectives conducted a thorough investigation into Brown’s death.
“It took them a little while to do this,” Slouchick said. “We talked to everyone that we were made aware of, and every witness we were made aware of. We tried to find every video that we could find.
“I’m sorry they feel that way.”