Harrison County, MS – A Harrison County grand jury on Tuesday declined to bring charges against the law enforcement officers who fatally shot a kidnapped three-month-old baby boy during a shootout with his father last year.
“After full and deliberate consideration of all the facts and circumstances leading up to the May 3, 2021, shooting of Eric Smith and La’Mello Parker, and the circumstances as they existed at the time of the shooting, the Grand Jury finds no criminal conduct on behalf of the law enforcement officers involved,” read a report released on April 19, according to WLOX.
The incident began at about 11:30 a.m. on May 3, 2021 at the home of the baby’s mother, 32-year-old Christin Parker, in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, WAFB reported.
Authorities said the baby’s father, 30-year-old Eric Derell Smith, allegedly shot the mother and her nephew, 26-year-old Brandon Parker.
Then Smith kidnapped the baby – later identified as four-month-old La’Mello Parker- and fled east, WAFB reported.
Police spotted Smith’s vehicle at about 2:52 pm. near the Louisiana – Mississippi state line.
Dozens of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies and jurisdictions worked together to shut down roadways, slow down the suspect vehicle, WLOX reported.
#BREAKING Biloxi Police confirm Eric Derell Smith’s 4-month old son died in the hospital this morning.
Smith had his baby with him during a police chase that started in Baton Rouge.
— Andrés Fuentes (@news_fuentes) May 4, 2021
Officers attempted to deploy stop sticks but Smith drove around them.
The grand jury report released on April 19 showed that at one point during the chase, Smith stopped his car on the interstate in Harrison County and got out of the car with his baby boy on his chest, the Sun Herald reported.
Smith began firing at officers using the three-month-old baby as a human shield, according to the report.
Then he got back into the vehicle and fled police again, the Sun Herald reported.
A sheriff’s deputy ended the pursuit with a PIT maneuver that brought Smith’s car to a halt in the grass on the median strip, WLOX reported.
But then the deputy got stuck in the mud and exited his vehicle.
The grand jury report said the sheriff’s deputy drew his handgun and was headed back to the interstate on foot when he realized that his K9 was out of his vehicle, the Sun Herald reported.
The deputy crossed directly in front of Smith’s line of fire as he went to retrieve the dog, according to the report.
“Smith rolled down his driver side window, extended a handgun from the window, and fired in the direction of the deputy and others,” the report read.
The bullet struck a nearby police vehicle, the Sun Herald reported.
Multiple law enforcement officers returned fire “simultaneously,” according to the grand jury report.
Smith was shot three times and the baby was shot once, the Sun Herald reported.
The father was pronounced dead at the scene and the baby died in a Mobile hospital the next day.
The gun battle that ensued between Smith and police was captured on cell phone video and posted to social media.
It showed law enforcement officers surrounding a blue car and exchanging a hail of gunfire with the suspect.
The grand jury report did not say which law enforcement officer’s bullet killed the baby, the Sun Herald reported.
According to the report, the grand jury recommended that “agencies address procedures in place and implement training related to communication and chain of command in multi-jurisdictional cases.”