Citizens react to the ex-sheriff's sentence

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd learned part of his fate Tuesday. He'll spend the next six months on house arrest and then six months on federal probation.

The sentencing comes after Byrd confessed to ordering a deputy to destroy patrol car dash cam video that showed Byrd kicking a handcuffed suspect following a chase that ended in Alabama. The crime could have sent the ex-sheriff to prison for 20 years.

Some, like Alfred Durden Jr., are outraged.

"It's unfair and unjustified," Durden said.

While other Jackson County residents are satisfied.

Tommy Gayten said, "Justice speaks for itself."

Byrd's punishment is what everyone was talking about over lunch in Pascagoula Tuesday.

"I feel, if it was me, I'd be doing more than probation," Ned Miller said. "I'd be looking at jail time."

Opinions varied as much as the sentencing options.

"They should have thrown the book at him," Durden said. "He deserved it. He was dirty cop. Anyway, it's been going on for a lot of years and he should have been thrown away."

Harvey Barton had a totally different reaction.

"He has been a great asset to the law enforcement community here in Moss Point, Pascagoula, Jackson County as a whole," Barton said. "I hate to see this; It's a sad day for anybody who has a blot like this on their legacy."

Byrd held the top law enforcement position in Jackson County for 14 years, elected by the citizens.

"He's a crime fighter," Tommy Gayten said. "He's done his job for Jackson County, and whether it's fair or not, he did what he felt like he needed to do. Of course, not what I would consider the best manner of a lawmaker."

"It's probably light in some people's eyes; It's probably not necessarily to him," Rodger Bradley said. "Anytime you have to be sentenced or pay for a crime, it's a tragedy. So I just pray for him and pray for his family."

Despite disagreement on whether the punishment fits the crime, most people say they are ready for Jackson County to be able to move forward.

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