Late Tuesday night, a Jackson County jury found former Moss Point Reserve Officer Steve Strickler "not guilty" of manslaughter.
Strickler is the first of three officers to go on trial for the death of Marcus Malone. He faced 20 years in prison if convicted. Strickler told WLOX News just after the verdict was read, that he has no plans to continue a career in law enforcement.
Reaction to the jury's decision was varied, ranging from shock to disappointment to relief.
"We felt like the state made a good case, but apparently the jury didn't feel the same way we felt," said Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark.
Clark was relentless in his efforts to get the case before a jury. He says he takes comfort that all the facts surrounding Malone's death are now out in the open.
"We're very disappointed in the verdict, but we're happy it got to this point. That it was evaluated in a court of law where it should have been evaluated. We didn't feel it should've just died on the vine or been swept under the rug. Everyone had a chance to review the facts and make a determination," said Clark.
None of the Moss Point officers would talk on camera after the verdict. But Officer Brian Montgomery told WLOX News the "not guilty" verdict was the jury's only option based on the evidence presented. Montgomery said the acquittal is a great victory for Strickler, for law enforcement in general, and for the citizens, who demanded justice in this case.