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Grand jury finds shooting of suspect charged in Hancock County deputy’s murder was justified

Joseph Rohrbacker appears before the judge on April 27, 2021, for his first court appearance....
Joseph Rohrbacker appears before the judge on April 27, 2021, for his first court appearance. Rohrbacker is accused of killing Hancock County deputy Lt. Michael Boutte on Feb. 1, 2021.(wlox)
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 12:26 PM CST
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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The deputies who opened fire on a murder suspect accused of killing a South Mississippi law enforcement officer were justified in doing so, according to a report from the grand jury that was released Friday.

A secret grand jury in Hancock County convened during the August 2021 session and were presented evidence in the shooting of Joseph Michael Rohrbacker. After reviewing all of the evidence and circumstances, the grand jury found that no criminal conduct was conducted by the deputies.

Lt. Michael A. Boutte Sr. died in the line of the duty on Feb. 1, 2021. He was 57 years old.
Lt. Michael A. Boutte Sr. died in the line of the duty on Feb. 1, 2021. He was 57 years old.(Hancock County Sheriff's Dept.)

Multiple shots were fired at Rohrbacker on Feb. 1, 2021, after authorities say he shot Hancock County deputy Michael Boutte twice in the head, killing the long-time law enforcement officer.

At the time of the shooting, Boutte and another deputy were responding to a home on Caesar Necaise Road after an incident began following allegations that Rohrbacker had molested younger family members. Before deputies arrived, however, investigators said Rohrbacker cut his dog’s throat. Then, Rohrbacker reportedly fired multiple shots in the direction of the two deputies.

A MBI investigator would later testify in court that Rohrbacker admitted to randomly shooting at the deputies in the hopes that they would shoot him back so he could commit suicide by police.

Joseph Michael Rohrbacker, 30, is held on a charge of capital murder in connection to the Feb....
Joseph Michael Rohrbacker, 30, is held on a charge of capital murder in connection to the Feb. 1 shooting that killed Hancock County Lt. Michael Boutte.(Harrison County Adult Detention Center)

In addition to a capital murder charge in the death of Lt. Boutte, Rohrbacker is also facing eight other charges, which include three counts of child molestation, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor because the children were present when the dog’s throat was cut, one count of witness tampering, and one count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.

Rohrbacker is being held at Harrison County Adult Detention Center without bond awaiting his trial date, which is currently set for Aug. 15, 2022.

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