‘No criminal conduct’ found in Mississippi police shooting

Published 7:24 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023

A Mississippi grand jury has found “no criminal conduct” by a law enforcement officer who fatally shot a Black teenager last fall outside a discount store in Gulfport, state Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Wednesday

An officer shot 15-year-old Jaheim McMillan in the head Oct. 6 after Gulfport police pulled over a car carrying the teen and other minors. McMillan, a Gulfport High School freshman, died two days later at a hospital in Mobile, Alabama.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation examined the case, as it does with all shootings involving law enforcement officers. Fitch said in a statement that her office presented information from that investigation to a Harrison County grand jury earlier this month.

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Because the grand jury declined to indict anyone in the shooting, Fitch said her office will take no further action in the case.

McMillan’s death has prompted protests in Gulfport, with local residents, Black Lives Matter group members, national civil rights figures and other activists demanding the officer involved be charged and calling for the release of police body camera footage of the shooting.

The police department has not released the name or race of the officer.

Gulfport police said in a news release soon after the shooting that it occurred after they responded to a 911 call about several minors waving guns at other motorists. Officers pulled the minors over in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store.

Gulfport Police Chief Adam Cooper said an officer confronted an armed suspect, since identified as McMillan, resulting in shots being fired. He said police took four other suspects into custody, and several firearms were recovered from the scene.

McMillan’s mother has said she does not believe her son was armed.

In a video taken by a bystander after the shots were fired, McMillan could be seen on the ground in front of the door to the store. A witness said police handcuffed the teenager after he had been shot.

The Sun Herald reported Wednesday that Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said authorities got in touch with McMillan’s mother, Katrina Mateen, and other relatives to set an appointment to meet with them about the grand jury decision and about plans to publicly release the police body camera footage of the shooting.

WLOX-TV reported that the police chief said that in the days after the shooting, threats had been made to an officer wrongfully accused of shooting the teen. Tindell told WLOX in December that McMillan’s family had been shown both a slow-motion video and an unedited video of the shooting.

In early February, police arrested protesters who went into Gulfport City Hall and chanted as they demanded information about the shooting.