Thursday, February 5, 2009
I usually stick to the area I know (San Francisco Bay Area), but I tripped over this story and wanted to open this for discussion.
Over the past month there have been numerous protests over the Oscar Grant BART incident. Are Bay Area people the only ones who protest incidents where the police are involved?
On December 8, 2008, in Lucedale, Mississippi, 17-year old star high school football player Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. died from what is said to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being stopped in the early-morning hours after he was observed by law enforcement running a red light. Johnson was a college-bound kid bound for Auburn University after his high school graduation, and a no-doubt limitless future.
For reasons unknown, he had gone to see his on-again, off-again [white] girlfriend in the very early morning hours, and the girlfriend’s mother called the authorities saying the boy was trying to break into the home. (The girlfriend’s mother was not on the scene, but she called 911 after receiving a phone call from her daughter reporting that Johnson was outside of the trailer the girl shared with her father.)
Before that call even went over the radio, George County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Sullivan had already observed Johnson running a red light and initiated pursuit. The officer observed Johnson’s 1999 Chevy truck run also through a 4-way stop. Johnson did not yield to the officer's lights, and a 1 ½ mile chase ensued.
This would all be so easy if the sheriff’s car had a camera in place. I can’t find any media account that says if cameras were normally in use in George County or if this officer didn’t have one or didn’t have it turned on.
What we do know is Johnson ended up dead on a service road leading into Benndale Carpets of what the officer says was a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
I encourage readers to check out the links I’ve provided and make your own conclusions. I admit that usually I give law enforcement the benefit of a doubt, but in this case, I’m not so sure.
At any rate, certainly the family of Billey Joe Johnson, Jr. deserves an honest investigation into their son’s death.
I invite anyone who lives in the region to add their observations to this story.
Who shot Billey Joe Johnson?
Mississippi family looks for answers in son's death
Documents associated with the case
Family of Mississippi Athlete Hires The Cochran Firm