Court Appearance Set in Killings of Hattiesburg Police Officers

Hattiesburg Police Department patrolmen Benjamin J. Deen, left, and Liquori Tate died Saturday, May 9, 2015, after being shot during a traffic stop. (PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Hattiesburg (Miss.) Police Department)
Hattiesburg Police Department patrolmen Benjamin J. Deen, left, and Liquori Tate died Saturday, May 9, 2015, after being shot during a traffic stop. (PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Hattiesburg (Miss.) Police Department)

Two police officers slain Saturday will be remembered at a memorial service here today. Meanwhile, the four suspects held in their shooting deaths have an appearance in front of a judge at the Forrest County jail.

Hattiesburg Police Department patrolmen Benjamin J. Deen and Liquori Tate died Saturday night after being shot shortly before 8 p.m. while making a traffic stop.

One of the officers was shot in the face and the other officer was struck under his vest, said Albert Santa Cruz, Mississippi commissioner of Public Safety.

Three suspects were arrested between the time of the incident and 3 a.m. Sunday.

Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22, both of Hattiesburg, were charged with two counts of capital murder, while Banks’ brother, Curtis Banks, 26, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.

Marvin Banks also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and grand theft auto for fleeing in one of the patrolmen’s vehicles after the shooting.

Sunday, a fourth suspect, Cornelius Clark, 28, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.

“In a city as amazing as Hattiesburg, this is an unfathomable tragedy,” said state Rep. Toby Barker, a Republican from Hattiesburg. “Everyone in our community feels this one.”

In a statement Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch echoed Barker’s sentiments.

“The shocking assault on law enforcement officers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, struck at the heart of that great city. The Department of Justice stands ready to offer any possible aid to the Hattiesburg community as they investigate this appalling incident. And we will continue to do all that we can to protect our officers across the country and support all those who wear the badge.”

Lynch noted that the deaths of Deen and Tate happened while the nation is observing Police Week.

“Their loss is made even more tragic by the fact that on the day they were killed this past Saturday, the country began observing Police Week — a time when we pause to remember and honor the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.”

Two of the four suspects were no strangers to the Hattiesburg Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

“They were felons,” Mayor Johnny DuPree said Sunday referring to Marvin and Curtis Banks.

For Marvin Banks, there were no fewer than seven arrests between 2008 and October.

The charges began small — a noise violation and an issue with a car tag in 2008 — then escalated. In 2010, he was arrested with a three-month period for both possession of a stolen firearm and sale of crack cocaine. In 2011, he appeared on a possession of marijuana charge. In the ensuing months, he was arrested by the police department as a fugitive and for a probation violation. In 2013, he appeared again on a sale of crack cocaine charge in Forrest Count, and last October he was arrested by the University of Southern Mississippi police on a trespass charge.

Curtis Banks, a standout pitcher for Hattiesburg High in the mid-2000s, was arrested on a simple robbery charge in 2008, then four more times, including in 2013 on warrants that had been issued for simple assault by threat, carrying a concealed weapon and vandalism. He was cited for simple assault and consuming in a moving vehicle in 2010, and four vehicle-related charges came in 2011.

One of the two brothers has mental problems and is addicted to drugs, appearing high in photos after he was arrested, his mother said Monday.

Mary Smith said her son Marvin smoked “spice” daily and had been hearing voices ever since he was attacked and hit in the head with a pipe several years ago.

Smith told the Associated Press that she has no doubt that Marvin killed the officers.

“You could tell something was wrong with him,” she said, speaking on the steps of the Forrest County Courthouse, where she had come to find out more information about her sons’ arrest. “I hate it for these families that he wasn’t in his right mind.”

A police shooting hadn’t happened in Hattiesburg in more than 30 years, when Jackie Dole Sherrill was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 1984.

“I always hoped that she would be the last,” said her daughter, Erica Sherrill Owens, who was a 3-year-old when she lost her mother. “Mother’s Day, it’s always a tough day, but this, this is worse.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Hattiesburg (Miss.) American, Tim Doherty

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