Officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen from Hattiesburg, Mississippi were critically shot on Saturday night. They are the first officers who in more than 30 years died in the line of duty. Four people were arrested, two of which were charged with capital murder.
This incident comes at a time when the country is shaken by debates on policing, the use of deadly force and race. The national debate was triggered by the recent incidents in which unarmed black men were killed by police in Missouri and South Carolina. Moreover, the deaths of the officers were followed by the funeral of an officer from New York City who was shot in the head while questioning a man who carrying a handgun.
Warren Strain from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety reported that two persons were charged with counts of capital murder. One of them was 22-year-old Joanie Calloway and the other one was 29-year-old Marvin Banks who was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with grand theft because after the shooting he fled in the police cruiser. Strain explained that he ran away with a Hattiesburg police cruiser, but he did not make it very far. After three or four blocks he ditched the car.
After the fact of capital murder Marvin Bank’s 26-year old brother was also charged with two counts of accessory. The fourth person arrested was the 28-year-old Cornelius Clark who was charged with obstruction of justice. On Monday all four of them are supposed to make their initial court appearances at the Forest County Justice Court.
The shooting was caused by a routine traffic stop. One of the murdered officers was a recent graduate of the academy who had wished to become a police officer since he was a boy and the other was decorated “Officer of the year”.
On Sunday morning a large number of people visited the site where the two police officers were shot. They left flowers and balloons on the street which was still marked by blood stains. At the New Hope Baptist Church people prayed for the two officers. On Sunday evening community members gathered for a candlelight vigil in their honor and for Monday a memorial service was planned.
Phil Bryant, Mississippi Governor, declared:
“This should remind us to thank all law enforcement for their unwavering service to protect and serve. May God keep them all in the hollow of his hand.”
Image Source: Sun Herald