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2 more sought for questioning in Mississippi police shooting


JACKSON — Authorities said late Tuesday that they want to question two more people in connection with the fatal shooting of two Mississippi police officers last weekend.

Surveillance video from Saturday night, hours after the shooting, shows a man and a woman getting out of a Cadillac Escalade at the motel where police later arrested Marvin Banks, said Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain. The 29-year-old Banks is accused of shooting officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate.

Strain said authorities don’t believe the man and the woman were directly involved in the shooting.

Police had announced Saturday that they were searching for the gold SUV. They recovered it Sunday.

Also Tuesday, the FBI and local police looked for the gun used in the shooting near the location where they say Banks abandoned a police car that he stole after the officers were wounded.

“There was no weapon found, so that search will continue,” Strain said.

He said investigators believe they have a strong case even without the gun.

Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home said the 34-year-old Deen, a former Hattiesburg “Officer of the Year” who was married and had two children, will be buried Thursday in nearby Sumrall after a funeral in Hattiesburg.

Craft Funeral Home in McComb said a funeral will be held Saturday in Hattiesburg for the 25-year-old Tate, with burial for the 2014 police academy graduate to follow in Starkville.

Banks is jailed without bond on two capital murder charges. When Deen stopped a Hyundai driven by Banks’ 22-year-old girlfriend, Joanie Calloway, for speeding, he decided to search the vehicle, Strain said Monday. After Tate arrived as backup, Deen asked Banks, Calloway and passenger Cornelius Clark to get out.

At that point, authorities have said, Banks shot Deen in the face and Tate in the lower back. Both officers were wearing bullet-resistant vests that couldn’t protect them against the gunshots.

Police later arrested Banks at a motel more than 5 miles away. Prosecutors have charged Banks’ younger brother, 26-year-old Curtis Banks, as an accessory after the fact to murder, apparently for driving his brother to the location where he was arrested.

Marvin Banks had already done two stints in state prison and faced unresolved drug charges when Deen pulled over his girlfriend. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to possession of a stolen handgun, got a split sentence and was released from prison after serving about a year. But he returned to prison after violating terms of his release.

Calloway is also charged as an accessory after the fact, while the 28-year-old Clark is charged with obstruction. All four remained jailed Tuesday.

At an initial court appearance Monday, Forrest County Justice Court Judge Gay Polk-Payton denied bond to Marvin Banks. Banks is also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and with grand theft for fleeing a few blocks in a squad car after the shooting.

Polk-Payton set Curtis Banks’ bond at $100,000. But, like his brother, Curtis Banks faced a pending drug charge, and Polk-Payton revoked that bond, meaning Curtis Banks is also likely to remain in jail. The judge set $75,000 bonds for both Calloway and Clark.

All four have been assigned public defenders. Strain said all four have given statements to police.

The charges could be the bottom of what Marvin Banks’ mother, Mary Smith, describes as a downward spiral for her son. Smith said that when she saw the booking photos of her 26-year-old son, she knew something was off.

“He was sick and out of his head, and I tried to get him some help,” she said Monday morning on the steps of the Forrest County Courthouse, where she had gone to find out more information about the arrest.

Banks had been smoking synthetic marijuana, known as spice, every day, Smith said.

“He was on that spice. He was on every drug there was. Spice, powder, marijuana, drinking,” she said.

More than 1,000 people filled a hall at the Hattiesburg convention center Monday for a memorial for the officers. With photos of the uniformed men projected above the stage, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant — himself a former sheriff’s deputy — said the city was enduring a difficult, sad time.

“We will persevere. We will prevail,” Bryant said.



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