Two police officers were shot and killed during a traffic stop, and three suspects were arrested hours later, authorities said Sunday.
Two of the suspects were charged Sunday with capital murder in the death of officers Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25.
Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22, were each charged with two counts of capital murder. Banks was also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also charged with grand theft for fleeing in the police cruiser after the shooting, Strain said.
“He absconded with a Hattiesburg police cruiser. He didn’t get very far, three or four blocks and then he ditched that vehicle,” Strain said.
Banks’ brother, Curtis Banks, 26, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.
Lamar County authorities arrested Marvin Banks at a motel shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday. Curtis Banks was arrested around 3 a.m. at an apartment complex.
“No sir, I didn’t do it,” Curtis Banks told reporters gathered at the State Police barracks when Banks was brought in.
Strain said one officer stopped a 2000 Gold Cadillac Escalade in an industrial corridor about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. A second officer arrived as backup. Hattiesburg residents Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts drove past the scene of the shooting, discovered the two officers and called 911.
“Never in my life have I experienced or seen anything like this except on TV. And to be in the midst of it, it’s shocking and heartbreaking,” Mills said. “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 911, 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.’ ”
It marked the first time a Hattiesburg police officer had been killed in the line of duty since New Year’s Eve in 1984.
Tate, 25, was a recent graduate from the police academy. He posted on his Facebook page that he graduated June 11.
Tate graduated South Pike High School and attended Southwest Mississippi Community College before joining the Hattiesburg Police Department.
Deen, 34, was a K-9 officer. He was named HPD Officer of the Year in 2012.
“People who believe in prayer, who believe in the power of prayer, I’d ask them to pray for the family members,” Mayor Johnny DuPree said.
The Hattiesburg Police Department has canceled an annual memorial service, scheduled for Wednesday, that honored previous fallen officers. Instead, a memorial service for Deen and Tate will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.
Source: USA Today