CL OPINION – Shooting: Proper investigation, not hysterics

Jackson City Council President Leslie Burl McLemore is usually a pretty cool hand when it comes to divisive issues, but he’s sounding more like Kenneth I. Stokes in the police shooting matter.

Ward 3 Councilman Stokes is well known for shooting from the lip before the facts are in and he hasn’t disappointed with Monday’s shooting of a mentally deranged man. He called a meeting to air his views, getting maximum public exposure.

But McLemore called local law enforcement “trigger-happy” and said he was concerned he is seeing a trend of officer-involved shootings in the metro area.

It’s unlike the political science professor at Jackson State University turned politician to make such a rash statement before the facts are in, and while an official police investigation is under way. Does he believe the Council can better judge the case?

As Jackson Police Chief/Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin observed, since 1994, deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s warrant division have attended 5,766 lunacy hearings and transported 4,072 patients to the State Hospital at Whitfield. Deputies “know how to handle mental patients. They’ve done it for years. They are not rookies,” McMillin said.

The case is under investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and should be allowed to run it course.

But as McMillin has also noted, there’s plenty of time to second-guess an incident where one was not present, while an officer only has a split second to decide if a suspect poses a danger.

McLemore and Stokes are out of line.

Clarion Ledger Opinion
5/16/8