August 11, 2020

Teens face murder charges after killing law officer in crash during pursuit

A prosecutor says two teenagers have been charged with murder in a wreck that killed a Mississippi law enforcement officer.

Panola County Constable Raye Hawkins died Thursday when a pickup truck smashed into the vehicle he was driving in Batesville.

Hawkins was responding to help officers from another county who were chasing what was believed to be a stolen truck.

District Attorney John Champion said at a news conference Thursday that a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were in the truck.

He said the truck “crushed and mangled” Hawkins’ vehicle, killing the constable instantly.

“At the speed we believe the vehicle was going, there’s just nothing that he could do,” Champion said, according to WMC-TV.
Champion said the teenagers are charged as adults.

It was not immediately clear Friday whether either is represented by an attorney.

They were being held in a juvenile detention center in DeSoto County.

Officers started chasing the truck in the town of Charleston in northern Mississippi’s Tallahatchie County. They went north into neighboring Panola County.

Hawkins was hit as the high-speed chase went through Batesville on Mississippi Highway 35.

Hawkins started his career at the Batesville Police Department in 1990.

He was later elected constable, a job whose duties include serving warrants in criminal cases and generally helping keep the peace.

He is survived by one son who is a Batesville police officer and was one of the first people on the scene of the crash.

Batesville Police Chief Jimmy McCloud said Hawkins would show up to help police anytime there’s a problem in town.

“If Raye was in earshot of that radio, he was coming to help,” McCloud said.