Billey Joe Johnson's family meets with DA and incident report released

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX)- Billey Joe Johnson's family and friends will have to wait well into the new year for answers about the death of the George County football star.  After a meeting with Johnson's family today, District Attorney Tony Lawrence says he expects the investigation into the 17 year old's death last week to be completed in January, and the case presented to a grand jury in February.  Johnson died of a gunshot wound a week ago, after being stopped by a George County deputy for a minor traffic violation.

For a week now, the family of Billey Joe Johnson has been struggling to understand how and why the 17 year old died.  They came to the Jackson County Courthouse Monday hoping for some answers in a private meeting with District Attorney Tony Lawrence.

"It was a very good meeting with the family today," said Lawrence.  "Very informative, thorough. The investigation is still ongoing, the family understands that."

The Johnson family has turned to the NAACP to help make sure every question about their son's death is answered.  George County NAACP president Willie Gaines is representing them.

"Mr. Lawrence assured them that they're doing everything possible to see that if anything other than what was speculated happened, to bring it to light," Gaines said.

Authorities have released the incident report filed by the deputy who stopped Johnson December 8th.  Deputy Sullivan stated he stopped Johnson after seeing the teen run a stop sign.  When he pulled Johnson over, the deputy says Johnson got out of his truck and explained he ran the stop sign because he was on his way home because his mother was sick.  The deputy states he told Johnson to get back in his truck.  While the deputy was radioing in a license number, he heard a gunshot and glass breaking.

According to the deputy's statement, he "looked up and the black male fell on the ground and the gun he had in his hand fell on top of him."  Deputy Sullivan says he told dispatch the subject had just shot himself, and asked for help.

This report is just one piece of many in the investigation.

"Investigations take time to complete," said Lawrence, "And I encourage people to avoid speculation and rumors and let the investigation be completed."

But the NAACP says more questions need to be answered.  The organization will conduct its own autopsy and investigation to go along with the one conducted by the Mississippi Department of Investigations.

"The family knows their son better than anyone," Gaines said.  "And they do not believe that their son has taken his own life."