Two held over murder of Mississippi policemen

2015-05-10 17:42
Booking photo of Joanie Calloway (AFP)

Booking photo of Joanie Calloway (AFP)

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Jackson - Police in Mississippi arrested a man and a woman and charged them with murder on Sunday after two police officers were shot dead a day earlier as they conducted a routine traffic stop in Hattiesburg, a state official said.

Authorities had launched a manhunt after at least one suspect fled the scene of the shooting in a police car that was later found abandoned, and residents in the area about 130km southeast of Jackson were told to stay indoors.

Warren Strain, spokesperson for the Mississippi department of public safety, said Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22, were each charged with two counts of capital murder.

Banks' brother Curtis, 26, was also arrested and charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.

Strain said the three were arrested overnight at different locations in Hattiesburg. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys.

The shooting took place on Saturday as one officer carried out a routine traffic stop on a gold Cadillac Escalade while a second arrived as backup. Two civilians called for help after finding the wounded officers on the ground.

They were pronounced dead at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. It was the city's first killing of a police officer since 1984, officials said.

The officers were named overnight as Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen. Tate was a 25-year-old recent graduate from the police academy, while Deen, 34, was a police dog handler.

State court records showed the Banks brothers are felons with multiple arrests for firearms charges. It was not immediately clear if all three suspects were in the car at the time of the shooting.

Marvin Banks was arrested at a Hattiesburg motel, police said, while his brother was arrested at an apartment complex.

The fatal shootings are another reminder of the dangers of police work and come at a time when law enforcement is facing a storm of criticism over the use of lethal force, especially against minority groups.

The Hattiesburg police officers who died are the ninth and 10th law enforcement officers in the United States shot and killed by assailants in 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a non-profit organisation that tracks police deaths in the line of duty.

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