Mississippi police won’t say who fired shot that killed baby at end of pursuit on I-10

Published 4:58 am Friday, May 28, 2021

A Mississippi police department says that because its investigation continues, it will not now disclose who fired the bullet that killed a baby earlier this month as multiple law enforcement officers shot at the child’s father.

The Sun Herald filed a public records request with the Biloxi Police Department, which is investigating the May 3 shooting that included officers from multiple other Mississippi agencies.
Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers, Gulfport police and Harrison County deputies pursued a car driven by Eric Derell Smith on Interstate 10 after the car crossed over from Louisiana to Mississippi. Smith, 30, was suspected of killing the baby’s mother and one other person in Baker, Louisiana, and then taking 3-month-old La’Mello Parker.

The newspaper reported Thursday that investigators have received results of a forensic test on the bullet that killed La’Mello.

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“You know, I can’t discuss that,” Biloxi Police Chief John Miller told the Sun Herald, citing the agency’s continuing investigation.

In response to the public records request, an attorney for Biloxi police provided three pages of an incident report, but excluded two other pages cited as being exempt from public disclosure because they are investigative reports.

The redacted report shows Mississippi authorities got involved after they received a May 3 complaint from the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. The incident report contains only one sentence: “known subject (Smith) was a wanted fugitive from justice and discovered to be in possession of a kidnapped child.”

The victim is listed as a missing person, with the name redacted. Louisiana police identified the baby as kidnapped and missing that morning.

The Biloxi NAACP and Black Lives Matter Mississippi have both demanded that law enforcement officers give the public access to videos and other materials related to the fatal shootings of Smith and the baby, who were both Black.

Authorities wanted to arrest and charge Smith in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Christin Parker, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26.

Videos from drivers on the interstate show officers fired over 20 rounds into the car. Miller has said the officers started shooting after Smith shot at them. Smith died at the scene, and La’Mello died the next day in an Alabama hospital. An autopsy determined the baby died of a single gunshot wound.

Investigators have not said whether any officers were wearing body cameras at the time. Biloxi police are investigating because none of that department’s officers were involved. Biloxi Police Major Chris DeBack said results of the investigation would be given to the district attorney’s office.