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Mississippi Grand Jury Clears Deputy Who Shot Reginald Johnson

Gulfport, MS – A Harrison County grand jury on Monday decided not to indict the deputy who fatally shot 48-year-old Reginald “RJ” Johnson in the Biloxi courthouse parking lot in January.

The incident began at about 3:47 p.m. on Jan. 15 when the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department received a complaint about somebody spitting on vehicles in the courthouse parking lot on Lameuse Street, the Sun Herald reported.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) said in their investigative report that when the first deputy arrived on the scene, Johnson “displayed a knife and began to advance on the deputy.”

A moment later, the deputy fatally shot Johnson, the Herald reported.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to WLOX.

The deputy was transported to Merit Health in Biloxi with non-life-threatening stab wounds.

The Sun Herald filed a public record’s request for the police report on the shooting with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department shortly after the incident.

Harrison County Attorney Tim Holleman told the newspaper at the time that the report had not been completed because the deputy who shot Johnson was home recovering from stab wounds.

The police report has yet to be released, the Sun Herald reported.

Johnson’s family and friends have demanded transparency and the released of the bodycam and dashcam videos associated with the incident.

The Sun Herald has also filed a public records request for the video but still had not received the footage six months after the incident.

Mississippi’s public records law gives law enforcement agencies the discretion to release investigative files and video footage, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the increasing number of U.S. cities who have begun releasing bodycam and officer identities almost immediately following a major incident, law enforcement agencies in Mississippi don’t usually do that.

The grand jury’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Johnson was announced on June 14, the Sun Herald reported.
Officials have not publicly identified the deputy who shot Johnson.

The grand jury’s ruling failed to shed any new light on the investigation or provide any additional details of what led up to the shooting, the Sun Herald reported.

“After full and deliberate consideration of all the facts and circumstances leading up to the Jan. 15, 2021, shooting of Reginald Michael Johnson, and the circumstances as they existed at the time of the shooting, the Grand Jury finds no criminal conduct on behalf of the deputy involved from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department. Therefore, we find that no further action is warranted by this body,” the decision read.

Johnson’s family has continued to protest and demand the bodycam video be released, the Sun Herald reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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