Community rallies to remember Billey Joe Johnson Jr.

Published: Feb. 27, 2011 at 2:10 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM CST
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LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – bio | email

LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) – The town of Lucedale is still haunted by the death of high school football hero Billey Joe Johnson Junior.  Two years ago, Johnson was pulled over by a George County Sheriff's Deputy for running a red light.  What happened next, stunned the community.

The deputy would later report that he returned to his car, and then heard a gunshot.  The deputy looked up to find Johnson shot and killed, a shotgun near his body.

An investigation found that the death was accidental and self inflicted.

Now, residents gather to remember Johnson as his family still searches for closure.

"I want to find out what happened to my son," said Johnson's father Billey Joe Johnson Sr.

Rumors swirled around the odd circumstance of Johnson's death, and divided the community. Despite the ruling that the death was accidental, his family still feels justice wasn't served.

"People feel that it's over. They feel that nothing's going to be done.  We believe his death was not an accident," said George County Human Rights Task Force President Lucy Wilson.

A rally in front of the county courthouse was organized to give comfort to the family and remember the high school football star.

"The message we want to leave in the community today is that where there have been injustices in communities that have been done by police officers or government officials, that the community has the right to demand answers," said Mississippi ACLU representative Nsombia Lambright.

The rally was organized by the ACLU, NAACP and other social justice groups who vow to keep Johnson's memory alive.

"I think there are many, many holes in the story and what happened, and it's just left a big void here in the community," said Lambright.

According to representatives from the ACLU, the Department of Justice is currently conducting an investigation into the incident.

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