Cleveland Holmes

Background

On January 30, 1960, in Puckett, MS, Rankin County police officers Grady Cook, Arthur Cook, Jack Smith, and Cal Burnham orchestrated the fatal beating of Cleveland Holmes. Holmes, 40 years old, stood 6’7’’ and weighed nearly 285 pounds. He was a successful landowner, farmer, and father of 15. On the day in question he was arrested for drunkenness and brought to Rankin County jail in Brandon, MS. News reports indicate that his body was found the next morning, face down in a puddle of blood. Leon Hooker signed an affidavit stating that Constable Grady Cook repeatedly struck Holmes on the head because his “talking back made him mad.”

The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department opened an investigation into the murder of Cleveland Holmes. According to what Holmes’s daughter, Inez Holmes, told a CRRJ investigator, Hooker eventually admitted that Constable Grady Cook put a pistol to his (Hooker’s) head and made him beat Holmes in a chicken coop. All four of the Rankin County officers beat Holmes that night. Holmes’ children were kicked off of the land their father owned shortly after his murder.

Legal Status

A coroner’s jury empanelled by Justice of the Peace Walter Radcliff found that Holmes died of natural causes.