Neimiah Montgomery

Background

Neimiah (aka Nehemiah) Montgomery, 60, was shot to death by Bolivar County law enforcement officers over a dispute with a gas station attendant about payment for the gasoline. He was shot by City Marshal L.L. Yarbrough. A television station in Seattle broadcast news of the incident as reported to them by Freedom Summer student Denis Flanigan. On learning of the news report in Seattle, the Sovereignty Commission made inquiries of Bolivar County authorities. Erle Johnston, director of the Sovereignty Commission reported to the Department of Public Safety that the Flanigan report on the Montgomery shooting was false. He wrote:

I believe the student was referring to the slaying of a berserk Negro named Nehemiah Montgomery by City Marshall L.L. Yarbrough. This occurred around August 10, 1964. The Negro had refused to pay for gasoline after ordering it, knocked the service station attendant down, and threatened a woman with an axe handle. An integrated Coroner’s Jury ruled the marshal fired in self-defense after he was struck with the axe handle.

Legal Status

A coroner’s jury ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.