Moss Point mayor questions handling of inmate's attempted suicide

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The mayor of Moss Point still has questions and criticism for the city's police department. The latest problem to surface is what Mayor Xavier Bishop calls the "improper handling" of an attempted suicide at the jail earlier this year.

"I was disappointed and displeased in the manner in which the situation was handled," Mayor Bishop told WLOX News.

Bishop said a man being held on a felony charge back in January ended up going to the hospital by ambulance. Given past problems with complaints at the Moss Point Jail, the mayor said he should have heard from the chief right away.

"I investigated the matter first by contacting the chief for verification, and much to my surprise she expressed not knowing," Bishop said.

In a two page report to Aldermen obtained by WLOX News, Bishop describes what he learned about the incident three weeks later. Bishop said it was an attempted suicide, which the deputy chief initially denied.

Bishop's report also points to confusion about what happened at Singing River Hospital, and whether the police stayed with the inmate, or tried to release him from custody in the emergency room.

The mayor still wants answers from Chief Sheila Smallman.

"I think the situation warrants an internal investigation and I am not satisfied."

Chief Smallman declined an on camera interview, but she did say the mayor's view of this incident is not true, and her department followed the right protocol.

"The inmate involved is a repeat offender and demands to be released when jailed or threatens to harm himself. Acadian was called and they determined that he should receive further medical attention due to the self-inflicted injuries and his threat to harm himself," Chief Smallman said in a written statement to WLOX News.

"I think something of this nature should have been reported immediately," Bishop said. "I am not ready to say that it was a cover up. But then again, if it weren't, it can only be explained in a way in terms of the ignorance that appears to be displayed in not reporting this."

A frustrated chief said, "This matter was investigated and there was no foul play. The mayor has spoken and I don't want to continue to defend myself or my department. Enough is enough."

Chief Smallman said the mayor and the Board of Alderman received a final report about the jail incident. Despite Mayor Bishop's recommendation, the board chose not to discipline the chief or deputy chief.

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