If possible, President Obama should attend the memorial service for these officers today, or at least should call to offer his condolences to the family and make a public statement on the matter. Two police officers being killed in the line of duty is just as much a tragedy as unarmed black men being killed by police.
On a Sunday when the nation celebrated mothers, Hattiesburg, Miss., mourned two fallen sons.
“No parent should have to bury their child before them, and here we are on Mother’s Day, with a tragedy for all America, a tragedy for our community,” said Mayor Johnny DuPree.
Hattiesburg Police Department patrolmen Benjamin J. Deen and Liquori Tate died Saturday night after being shot shortly before 8 p.m. while making a traffic stop.
Three suspects were arrested between the time of the incident and 3 a.m. Sunday.
Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22, both of Hattiesburg, were charged with two counts of capital murder, while Banks’ brother, Curtis Banks, 26, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.
Marvin Banks also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and grand theft auto for fleeing in one of the patrolmen’s vehicles after the shooting.
Sunday, a fourth suspect, Cornelius Clark, 28, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.
“In a city as amazing as Hattiesburg, this is an unfathomable tragedy,” said state Rep. Toby Barker, a Republican from Hattiesburg. “Everyone in our community feels this one.”
A memorial service for Deen and Tate will be held Monday.
Two of the four suspects were no strangers to the Hattiesburg Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
“They were felons,” DuPree said Sunday referring to Marvin and Curtis Banks.
For Marvin Banks, there were no fewer than seven arrests between 2008 and October.
The charges began small — a noise violation and an issue with a car tag in 2008 — then escalated. In 2010, he was arrested with a three-month period for both possession of a stolen firearm and sale of crack cocaine. In 2011, he appeared on a possession of marijuana charge. In the ensuing months, he was arrested by the police department as a fugitive and for a probation violation. In 2013, he appeared again on a sale of crack cocaine charge in Forrest Count, and last October he was arrested by the University of Southern Mississippi police on a trespass charge.
Curtis Banks, a standout pitcher for Hattiesburg High in the mid-2000s, was arrested on a simple robbery charge in 2008, then four more times, including in 2013 on warrants that had been issued for simple assault by threat, carrying a concealed weapon and vandalism. He was cited for simple assault and consuming in a moving vehicle in 2010, and four vehicle-related charges came in 2011.
Jennifer Bass, a school resource officer with Hattiesburg Public School District who was with the police department for six years, said she was crushed when she heard of the tragedy.
“I’m devastated,” she said. “When I heard the news, my heart just dropped. We’ve all made traffic stops on that street. It could have happened to any of us.
“It’s heartbreaking. I’ve been trying to hold back the tears. It shouldn’t have happened.”
It hadn’t happened in Hattiesburg in more than 30 years, when Jackie Dole Sherrill was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 1984.
“I always hoped that she would be the last,” said her daughter, Erica Sherrill Owens, who was a 3-year-old when she lost her mother. “Mother’s Day, it’s always a tough day, but this, this is worse.”
SOURCE: Tim Doherty
Hattiesburg (Miss.) American