Two Officers Killed In Routine Traffic Stop, Mississippi Mourns

On Saturday, two police officers were killed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The officers, Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25, made a routine traffic stop of a 2000 Gold Cadillac Escalade. The stop occurred around 8:30 p.m. in an industrial complex. They were later found by Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts, both of Hattiesburg, who were traveling through the neighborhood and saw the bodies. They stopped to assist the officers and called 911. The officers were taken to Forrest General Hospital, where they later died.

Mills, who was driving, said she had never seen anything like it except on TV, according to the Clarion Ledger.

“As we were coming down Fourth Street, we noticed a bunch of lights. As we came on through, (Roberts) told me to turn around because she saw somebody laying on the ground. So I backed up. That’s when we noticed the officer was down. We just saw that one, but in the course of me being on the phone with 9-1-1, I turned and I saw another officer across the street rolling on the ground. (Roberts) ran across the street to check on him. He wasn’t all the way alert but he asked her, ‘Am I dying? I know I’m dying. Just hand me my walkie-talkie.’ “

Governor Phil Bryant, who had previously worked in law enforcement, had the following to say about the deaths of the officers and called for mourning throughout the state.

“Deborah and I join all Mississippians this morning in mourning the death of our two police officers in Hattiesburg. This should remind us to thank all law enforcement for their unwavering service to protect and serve. May God keep them all in the hollow of his hand.”

Sunday, three suspects were taken into custody. Marvin Banks, 29, and Joannie Calloway, 22, were charged with two counts of capital murder. Bank’s brother, Curtis, 26, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to capital murder. Cornelius Clark, whose age is unknown, was also arrested on a charge of obstruction of justice. Suspects were taken to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation for questioning. Law enforcement officials stated they are unsure of the motive for the shooting.

The police officers killed were the first to die in the line of duty in Hattiesburg since Jackie Dole Sherrill was killed in 1984. Hattiesburg is a city of about 48,000 people, and this brings the number of police officers killed in the city to six, according to the New York Times.

Officer Benjamin Dean, the first on the scene of the two officers killed, was a K-9 police officer and was named HPD Police Officer of the Year in 2012. Tate, who had just graduated the academy in June, posted about his graduation on his Facebook page.

[Photo Credit Clarion-Ledger]