Grand jury clears Gulfport officers after fatal shooting of man outside dollar store

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Two Gulfport officers have been cleared after fatally shooting a man last November outside a dollar store on Highway 49.

On Monday, the grand jury found no criminal conduct had been committed when Henry Lee Frankowski III was shot by police outside of a Dollar Tree store on Nov. 12, 2020.

Police said they were responding to calls that a homeless man was abusing his dog outside the store. When they arrived, authorities said the man - who was later identified as Frankowski - appeared to show signs of mental illness and pulled a handgun on the officers.

Two officers fired simultaneously at Frankowski, said Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle.

“As with every officer-involved shooting, they are criminally investigated and done by an outside agency to show transparency and no bias for the investigation,” said Chief Ryle. “Investigation takes some time. You have to gather evidence, collect statements, then get an opportunity to present to the grand jury the facts and circumstances. The grand jury is up to 20 peers within your community who make that determination.”

Immediately following officer-involved shooting, it is standard procedure for the officers to be administrative leave. There is a process they must then go through the involves a rest period, psychological examinations, firearms training simulations to requalify on their weapons, and a ride-a-long with a seasoned officer. Then, they can be cleared for duty.

“The officers still have to go back and go to work after they’ve been cleared for duty and, just having that weighing on their heads, in their minds, can be difficult but our officers are professional. They’re trained well. We have the best police department on the Coast so I have the utmost faith in their abilities to go out and conduct their jobs professionally,” said Ryle.

The two officers involved in this shooting were on administrative leave for about one month before they were cleared to return, said the chief.

“It makes you feel good that your officers did the right thing and acted appropriately. This investigation could not have happened without the support of the Harrison County district attorney’s office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Biloxi Crime Scene unit, who actually conducted the investigation. They did an excellent job of gathering the facts and circumstances and presenting it to the grand jury, who was able to hear the evidence and deem that there was no criminal misconduct of the officers.”

Because they are not charged with a crime, the identities of the officers have not been released.

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