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Justice for La’Mello: Demonstrators organize letter campaign for transparency in 3-month-old’s death investigation

Wednesday marks the 6 month anniversary of La'Mello's death.
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 7:34 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A group of activists met outside Gulfport City Hall Tuesday demanding transparency of the investigation into La’Mello Parker’s death.

Three-month-old Parker was killed in May during an I-10 vehicle chase between law enforcement officers and his father that ended in a shootout.

On the six-month anniversary of the infant’s death, protesters are still pushing for answers.

Local representatives from the Mississippi Rising Coalition, Black Lives Matter and the American Descendants of Slaves organized a letter and email campaign to the mayor and police chief.

They plan to present it at the next City Council meeting on Nov. 16.

“We’re very committed to getting policies put in place that will prevent these issues from happening again,” ADOS Vice President Leo Carney told WLOX.

In the letter, they are demanding evidence like 911 calls, body cam and dashcam footage be made public immediately and for city leaders to establish a civilian oversight committee for cases like this moving forward.

“We still have no answers as to why the Gulfport Police Department, along with Mississippi Highway Patrol and Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, responded in the way that they did. We don’t know who shot La’Mello. We don’t know what officers have been placed on leave and why. We just have absolutely no, no answers,” Mississippi Rising Coalition President Lea Campbell said. “With no transparency, there’s no accountability.”

The Gulfport Police Department released the following statement on Tuesday:

The Gulfport Police Department has received numerous inquiries regarding the Biloxi Police Department investigation regarding the May 3, 2021, officer-involved shooting that led to the death of the multiple murder suspect, Eric Derell Smith, and his infant child La’Melo Parker. This investigation is being conducted at the direction of the Harrison County District Attorney’s Office.

The case is pending presentation to the Grand Jury. As such, it is still considered an active investigation. The Gulfport Police Department wants to ensure that this investigation is not hampered. All evidence and merits of the investigation are in possession of the Biloxi Police Department.

“Any time a life is lost, especially a child, it is tragic. We have cooperated fully with all investigating authorities. If there are any additional details needed on this investigation, we will work swiftly to assist. Our thoughts and our prayers continue to be with La’Melo’s family,” said Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle.

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