Analysis: Capitol Police outpaces other agencies across state after four officer-involved shootings in five months

Chief equates spike in incidents to few members of society ‘not used to being policed’
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:34 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In the last five months, Capitol Police officers have fired their weapons in four different instances, but the public still doesn’t know exactly what happened because those cases remain under investigation.

One of those encounters turned deadly after 25-year-old Jaylen Lewis died of his injuries on Sept. 25.

Those four officer-involved shootings represent more than any other agency in the Jackson metro by far and appear to lead the state in those shooting incidents over the course of 2022.

“The vast majority of the citizens support the idea of Capitol Police,” Jackson Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said. “They’re concerned about some of the officers who might be a little bit ‘gun’ happy.”

Capitol Police patrol approximately eight percent of the city of Jackson, an area known as the Capital Complex Improvement District, which runs from Jackson State to Fondren.

“We have had a spike in this area of officer-involved shootings,” said Capitol Police Chief Bo Luckey. “But I attribute that to that portion of the community, which is a very small portion, that’s just not used to being proactively policed.”

Stokes agrees with that, which is why he’s holding another town hall meeting next week where Capitol Police can connect with residents.

“The criminals are using youngsters to do all kinds of things. And one day, if it does not change, then you can look for a young person to get killed. And then that’s when everybody’s going to want to be in an uproar,” Stokes said.

Those concerns have only gotten more vocal after Lewis’ death four months ago.

The details of that incident have not been publicly released.

Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said that’s only because the investigation hasn’t been completed yet.

“If we have an officer that does something outside the bounds of the law, we’re working very hard to create a culture of accountability and those types of things will not be tolerated,” Tindell said. “The transparency of these officer-involved shootings is something we’re going to be adamant about. And so when [the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation] is done with this investigation, the grand jury has had an opportunity to review it, the public is going to have an opportunity to scrutinize any decisions that have been made.”

That includes body camera and dash camera footage from the case, Tindell said.

Luckey reiterated that he encourages his officers to protect themselves if someone pulls a gun on them, but also wanted to make clear that when an investigation leads to charges filed, he will follow the law.

“We will take appropriate action there to remedy any kind of problem, whether it be internal or criminal,” Luckey said.

There has been a concern in recent months with the optics of one division of DPS investigating another, too.

Both Capitol Police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation operate within DPS.

Commissioner Tindell said MBI is not the sole investigating agency, though.

Those officer-involved shooting cases are sent to the Attorney General’s office for review and further investigation.

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