MCCOMB, MS (WLBT) - McComb Ward 3 Selectman Devante Johnson has apologized after a heated conversation in which he said police are “slaughtering" and “murdering” black men daily.
The confrontation began after Ward 1 Selectman Ted Tullus played a recording between McComb Police Detective Shannon Sullivan and Johnson towards the end of last Tuesday nights city council meeting.
In the recording, Johnson can be heard asking Sullivan if he had discussed the board while attending a birthday party for his son.
Sullivan responds to Johnson, saying, “I’m being accused of talking about the board, is that what you’re saying? Do you have a recording of this conversation that I supposedly had?"
“I’m asking you a simple question,” responds Johnson. “Are you telling me that there was no conversation about this board?"
“Not to my knowledge, but if you have it, please, I want to see any allegation against me," says Sullivan.
At the end of the recording, Sullivan tells Johnson that their meeting has been taped.
Johnson says “end of conversation” and leaves.
After the recording had been played at the council meeting, Tullus told the board that harassing city employees and police is dangerous.
Johnson retorts, saying, “I’m glad you brought this conversation up. For eight years you created a hostile work environment for the citizens of McComb."
"Let me take you down a trip down memory lane. This man who sits in this chair,” Johnson says, gesturing towards McComb’s Mayor Quordiniah Lockley. “Who voted to fire him over statements in a newspaper? And you want to talk about harassment?”
Johnson was referring to Mayor Locklet’s controversial comments to Enterprise-Journal, in which he said that he is the only spokesperson for the City of McComb, and that no other city employee should speak to the media.
Tullus was critical of the mayor’s statements, saying, "Some people are control freaks. I can give my opinion. ... I can speak for being an elected official.”
“What’s disturbing to me is, when was the last time you rode through Wards 3, 4 and 5, and saw what our citizens endure at the hand of policemen?” continued Johnson. "There are black young men like myself who are slaughtered, killed and murdered at the hand of police officers everyday. When you want to come to me and talk about harassment, get your facts straight.”
“I have them straight,” said Tullus. “This is dangerous.”
The conversation continued for a little longer, before Mayor Lockley tells the council that will only take place in executive session if they would like to continue. The city council meeting soon ends.
Johnson has since released a response in regards to his comments about police.
In the letter, which Johnson sent to WLBT, he says, “In the heat of the moment, I did not articulate my words correctly and some things came out that were not accurate.”
He goes on to offer an apology to the police officers of the City of McComb.
“McComb has been very blessed not to have any police brutality and NO officer-involved homicides.”
He also says that he was not referring to McComb police when he made his “slaughtering” remarks.
“However," he adds, “in America, it does happen. We’ve had issues within our department and leadership has addressed them as they arose.”
Johnson ends the letter by writing, “I understand that law enforcement is under attack and I want to be a part of the solution. I stand with you and I support you wholeheartedly!”
The full letter can been seen below.