Justice for La’Mello: Demonstrators demand answers for 3-month-old’s death
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Rising Coalition, along with other social justice groups gathered at the corner of Highway 90 and 49 in Gulfport Saturday demanding answers in the death of 3-month-old La’Mello Parker.
La’Mello was the innocent life lost at the end of a 100-plus mile police chase, involving his father on I-10 from Louisiana to South Mississippi in May. Authorities said that Parker died from a gunshot wound. Now, people there said that they want transparency and accountability.
President of the Mississippi Rising Coalition Lea Campbell said that demonstrators wanted to know what led officers to fire at the car, and to release body and dashboard camera footage. They also said they wanted Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle to release the names of officers placed on leave.
“There’s a narrative that there was some sort of gunfire exchange between La’mello’s father, who was inside of the car and officers outside of the car. That’s not confirmed by any of the bystander videos that we’ve seen. We need bodycam footage and dashcam footage from that day immediately,” said Campbell.
Campbell explained that transparency and accountability should be vital pillars in law enforcement. But, however, she believes those values are not being displayed.
“We fund these departments. We’re the taxpayers and we fund these departments to protect and serve, not to kill. They are mandated to preserve life, steps weren’t not taken to preserve life. Lives were taken,” said Campbell, “The trust at this point with Gulfport Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol is not where it needs to be. Again, we fund these departments, we’re the taxpayers, we pay their salaries, we deserve answers.”
Leo Carney President of ADOS Mississippi explained demonstrators are particularly dissatisfied with Chief Ryle with his comments to media explaining he’s choosing not to release the names of officers on leave.
“His concerns were more about the well-being of the police officers saying, ‘What good would it do to release the names of officers who were on leave.’ Well, the good it would do is to bring closure to the Parker family who has experienced a traumatic loss during this time. Hopefully, we can get him to retract those statements to bring closure to the family,” said Carney.
The groups held a protest last month in front of the Gulfport Police Department and said they will not mind hosting more demonstrations until requests are met.
“We know we’re up against a power structure. We’re strategizing and we’re looking at this as the next step in a long-term campaign. Depending on the response from city officials, from law enforcement from today’s action will determine what our next step will be,” said Campbell, “Long term we want to have conversations with the law enforcement agencies involved and municipal and state officials around policy changes we would like to enact so that this won’t happen again.”
Both, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Gulfport Police Department were unable to comment.
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