Man Says Police Didn't Have To Kill His Son - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/14/03

Man Says Police Didn't Have To Kill His Son

Witnesses and police have different versions of how Jerry Wayne Stewart died. Edward Stewart says he tried to save his son, but he says the police gunned him down without letting Stewart get near him.

"They overstepped their bounds, they didn't have to kill him," Stewart says.

Stewart says the police gunned down his son, Jerry Wayne Stewart, even as the elder Stewart begged the officers not to shoot. 

"I said this is my son. I'm gonna try to help him I don't want ya'll to shoot him down like a dog in the street. They kept tellin' me to get back in the camper, get back inside and I'm steady tellin' them I can help them, let me get there and talk to him."

Stewart's son was shot just a few feet from where his father lives in a camper. Orange spray paint marks the spot on Martin Luther King Drive. The younger Stewart was staying nearby.

Police say they suspected Jerry Stewart of shooting Ellis Oatis at Mississippi Avenue and Jefferson Street earlier in the evening and then taking off. The police say when they found Stewart, he came at them with a gun. But Stewart's father says that's not what happened. 

"He had the thing down by his side like that. He never raised it, he never threatened nobody." 

Jerry Stewart's sister, Brenda Waits, was on the phone with her dad during the tense moments. She says her brother would still be alive if the officers had only listened to her father's pleas. 

"Just sad, you know we're very hurt and we just wish the police would have waited when my father was screaming," says Waits.

Police would comment on what either Edward Stewart or Brenda Waits told us.  District Attorney Cono Caranna didn't return our calls. Since police were involved in Jerry Stewart's shooting, three other law enforcement agencies and the district attorney are investigating. A grand jury will review the case.

Ellis Oatis's uncle, Tommy Oatis, told us the family is saddened by Ellis's death and there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the shooting.

By:Marcia Hill  

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