August 8, 2020

Despite pleas, judge refuses to reduce $1 million bond for teen who reportedly tried to slam car into officer

A Mississippi municipal judge refused to lower a $1 million bond for a teenager accused of armed robbery and felony assault on a police officer despite the 16-year-old’s attempt to sway him to lower it.

At a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Brookhaven Municipal Court, the case against Bryston Cooper, of Brookhaven, was bound over to a grand jury by Municipal Judge Brad Boerner.

A Lincoln County grand jury will decide whether or not to indict Cooper on the charges. The grand jury meets about six times a year.

Cooper’s public defender Jason Barrett requested Boerner reduce bond for Cooper, who is being kept in the general population in the Lincoln County jail since he’s being charged as an adult. Cooper was 15 at the time of his arrest in October.

Boerner looked through Cooper’s files before denying the request.

“You’ve got a youth court history which caused you to have an ankle bracelet — we can’t talk about that in this court, you’ve got a current arrest warrant in city court on unrelated charges, you failed to show up for court your last two scheduled court dates, you’re the subject of an active investigation on an unrelated felony not related to this. I just signed an arrest warrant on your mother who you live with, one of these felonies which I just found that there was probable cause that exists involves your attempt to flee and threatened the life of an officer in your attempt to flee,” he said. “Any one of those would be enough to be the perfect example of someone who is not going to show up in court, who is going to flee from police, and because you have multiple examples of that, your $1 million bond is very, very reasonable and it’s going to stay right there.

“Can I ask you something judge? That bond is too high for my charge, you see what I’m saying?” Cooper said.

“You didn’t hear a word I just said, did you?” Boerner asked.

“I feel like, I don’t understand. I don’t understand. ‘Cause I feel like my bond should be reduced,” Cooper said.

During the hearing, prosecutor Cheli Durr questioned detective Toy Beacham and Sgt. Jonathon Alford with the Brookhaven Police Department.

Beacham spoke to Cooper after his arrest Oct. 15 on charges of armed robbery and assault on an officer.

“He told me he did take the money… and he ran off. He denied having a gun,” she said.

A victim reported to police he was having a conversation with Cooper and another juvenile outside Citi Mart No. 2 on North Jackson Street when he was robbed by Cooper.

Surveillance video taken from the store shows the conversation taking place and Cooper lifting his shirt, as if to show a weapon, which backs up the victim’s claim, Beacham said. However, because of the angle of the video which shows Cooper from behind, a gun cannot be seen, Beacham said.

Cooper is seen snatching more than $200 from the victim and running away, she said.

Alford gave details about Cooper’s arrest seven hours after the alleged robbery. Alford, who was also acting as commander of the BPD Special Response Team, said Cooper was being tracked by police through the use of the ankle monitor he was wearing. He was located at the B-Kwik Food Mart at the corner of Hwy. 51 and Hwy. 550 in the passenger seat of a black Nissan Altima.

Officers pulled behind and in front of the vehicle.

Alford said BPD Cpl. Dustin Hodges exited from a police car that had blue lights flashing and was wearing tactical gear clearly marked “Police” on the vest. He stood in front of the Altima with several other officers surrounding it.

“Officers had rifles drawn on the vehicle due to the nature of the high-risk warrant. Being armed robbery it has potential for injury type of incident,” Alford said.

The driver, along with a male passenger and his child, followed instructions to put their hands up, he said.

“Mr. Cooper dove across the passenger seat into the floorboard of the passenger seat, pressing on the gas pedal of the vehicle,” Alford said.

He said the Altima lunged forward 4 or 5 feet toward Hodges, but Hodges was able to move from its path.

“Fortunately it did not strike him. He was able to get out of the way from the vehicle and fortunately, he did not open fire on the vehicle,” he said.

Alford said the driver held the brake pedal down, preventing the car from moving forward any further.

Barrett asked Alford how would Cooper purposely try to hit someone if he couldn’t see through the window while pushing the gas pedal with his hand.

“Well, a reasonable person would put their hands up when the police are standing in front of them with a rifle pointed at the vehicle instead of reaching over into the floorboard of the driver’s side, mashing the gas pedal,” Alford said.