Year in Review: Nearly a dozen officer-involved shootings reported across the Coast in 2021
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A total of 11 officer-involved shootings were reported in South Mississippi in 2021. Of those, six of the shootings resulted in fatalities, including a Hancock County deputy.
An officer-involved shooting includes any incident where shots are fired either at or by law enforcement.
Two of the officer-involved shootings were also reported in which shots were fired at officers by a suspect, but no shots were returned by the officers.
Below is a recap of some of the shootings involving South Mississippi law enforcement.
Jan. 15, 2021:
The string of officer-involved shootings began at the Harrison County Courthouse in Biloxi. 48-year-old Reginald Johnson of Biloxi was shot and killed after he “displayed a knife and began to advance on the deputy.” Video from the courthouse showed a Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy running backwards and tripping before he fatally shot Johnson multiple times as Johnson fell on top of him. Johnson had reportedly been causing a disturbance outside the courthouse. A Grand Jury cleared the deputy in the shooting
Feb. 1, 2021:
Lt. Michael Boutte was shot and killed on Ceasar Necaise Road. Joseph Michael Rohrbacker was charged and pled not guilty to one count of capital murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated assault against a police officer. Another Hancock County deputy shot Rohrbacker after he fired the fatal shots at Boutte and fired at the deputy.
Feb. 11, 2021:
39-year-old Jonathan Turner died after being shot by Gulfport police. Authorities were called in reference to a domestic dispute but, upon arrival, quickly realized it was a hostage situation. Police say officers tried to talk with Turner, but those efforts failed and multiple officers ended up engaging the suspect.
May 4, 2021:
An infant was caught in the crossfire when law enforcement officers shot his father. Double murder suspect Eric Smith led authorities on a 130-mile pursuit that began in Louisiana, where he was accused of killing the infant’s mother and another family member then taking the four-month old. The pursuit came to an end on I-10 near the Jackson County line.
Video shows officers surrounding the car as people in dozens of vehicles traveling in the westbound lane stopped to watch the activity. Within minutes of Smith’s car coming to a stop, at least 20 gunshots rang out as officers fired at the vehicle. Both Smith and the baby, La’Mello Parker, died from gunshot wounds.
June 12, 2021:
Few details are known about a non-fatal shooting in Long Beach that occurred after a police chase. Authorities have only confirmed that gunfire was exchanged between officers following after a police pursuit that begin in Gulfport and ended in Long Beach at 37th Avenue and West Railroad Street.
Aug 30, 2021:
A murder suspect was killed by law enforcement in the Hancock County community of Pearlington. Deputies reportedly tried to make contact with 80-year-old Martin Luther Bowman III when they arrived at the home by boat due to rising floodwaters caused by Hurricane Ida. Bowman is accused of killing his roommate, 65-year-old George Shaw.
Nov 6, 2021:
41-year-old Issac Bell III of Gloster, Miss., was shot after reportedly threatening people with a knife in the parking lot of Edgewater Village apartments. When officers arrived, Biloxi Police say Bell ran, leading to a pursuit that ended at City Heights at the Gulf apartments. Shots were fired, striking an officer and Bell. The officer survived his injuries but Bell died a week later, confirmed authorities.
Nov 22, 2021:
A woman survived after being shot by police in Moss Point. Officers initially responded to a convenience store for a report of a woman holding a gun to her head, said police. When they attempted to speak with her, she reportedly removed the gun from her purse, placed it to her head. Police Chief Brandon Ashley said she then got in the car and drove away while continuing to hold the gun to her head. Police followed her to her home, where they say she was walking down the street, still with the gun to her head as residents in the area pleaded with her to put down.
Suddenly, the woman moved the gun away from her head and pointed it directly at officers, forcing them to fire on her, said the police chief. The shooting, which was caught on camera by a civilian and quickly shared across social media.
Nov. 27, 2021:
The most recent officer-involved shooting was just last month in Long Beach. Very few details have been released regarding the circumstances that led to the shooting, despite multiple requests from WLOX. A Long Beach man survived after being shot during a traffic stop near the Circle K on Highway 90 confirmed a report released this month by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. According to Police Chief Billy Seal, the suspect was taken to the hospital in stable condition. No details about the events leading up to the shooting or an update on the suspect’s condition has been released.
Three fatal shootings by Gulfport police officers in 2020 were determined to be justified by grand juries in 2021. Those shootings include the shooting of Leonard Parker, who was shot just 30 seconds after an officer arrived on the scene.
Officers were also cleared in the shooting of Henry Frankowski, a man who appeared to show signs of mental illness and pulled what looked like a handgun on the officers. It was later determined that the handgun pulled was a realistic-looking toy pistol.
No wrongdoing was also found by officers in the shooting of Tracy McKinney, who was shot by officers the day after the Frankowski shooting. According to police, McKinney shot a woman and was standing over her body holding the gun when they arrived. After being told to drop the weapon, McKinney reportedly pointed it at officers, resulting in them firing at him.
Any time an officer-involved shooting is reported, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation takes over as the investigating agency. After all of the evidence is gathered, it is then presented to a grand jury, who decides whether or not the shooting is deemed justified.
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