JACKSON Officer Anthony Veasey was involved in three separate shootings in Jackson in 14 months since November 2017, including an exchange of gunfire that hit an 18-year-old two times in the back and five times in the leg, the teenager's family tells the Jackson Free Press.
Internal-affairs investigators for the Jackson Police Department exonerated Veasey for the first two shootings—on Nov. 15, 2017, and June 1, 2018—but a recent public-records request filed by this newspaper's intern reporter Taylor Langele indicated that Veasey is on leave with pay while being investigated for the third officer-involved shooting, along with Officer Jarron Carter.
Sgt. Roderick Holmes, the JPD spokesman, confirmed that the two officers are under investigation for the Jan. 5 mid-day incident in south Jackson, in which Perez Porter, 18, and a 15-year-old allegedly stole a car from the 300 block of Elms Court Circle and then decided to burglarize a house in the 1500 block of Wingfield Drive.
A 2-year-old was sleeping in the stolen car, but was found unharmed.
'At Least One Weapon Was Recovered'
JPD has provided scant information on the Jan. 5 incident so far. That day, Sgt. Holmes told WLBT that the police were nearby when a call came in about the stolen car and the child. Then police got a report about a burglary in progress on Wingfield Drive. Officers Veasey and Carter arrived to the site of the reported burglary to see two young men leaving a home and pursued them. Police say that at least one of the teenagers fired at them, causing police to return fire.
Porter's immediate family says that he was hit five times in one of his legs and two times in the back. He was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for treatment and then released to jail.
Holmes of JPD would not confirm the family's report that Porter was struck seven times, or where the bullets struck. "Porter did suffer a minimum of three gunshot wounds; however, I cannot confirm an exact amount," Holmes said when asked about the family's report. "Regarding whether or not he was returned to the hospital for follow-up surgery, I am not aware and cannot advise, since the correctional facility where he is housed is responsible for his transportation to and from."
Both Porter and the 15-year-old were charged with auto theft, kidnapping, house burglary and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer. Holmes confirmed today that neither officer was struck by gunfire.
"At least one weapon was recovered along with several spent casings," Sgt. Holmes told the Jackson Free Press in an email yesterday about the case. "I am not able to confirm whether one or both (teenagers) fired shots. It is safe to assume that a records check of the recovered weapon did not reveal it as stolen because that would have been an additional charge."
Porter, the 18-year-old, is being held without bond. He also had to return to UMMC on Jan. 15 for surgery because a bullet still lodged in his back had "traveled," his family said. Now he is back in the Hinds County Detention Center medical division, where his mother, Linda Porter, and other family members are not allowed to visit. She can talk to him by phone, however. He is both using a wheelchair and starting to limp with crutches, his family says.
The 15-year-old—the Jackson Free Press does not typically name minors charged with a crime—is also locked up, charged as an adult and facing a $250,000 bond. It is unclear whether he had a gun as JPD will only confirm that one was recovered at the scene for sure, which Porter likely was carrying.
Veasey Exonerated in Two Earlier Incidents
The Jackson Free Press received records in nine police shootings since Nov. 15, 2017, in response to the public-records request, after asking for the names, status and details of JPD's officer-involved shootings since Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba took office.
In response to our editorials and reporting on the lack of transparency, Lumumba convened an officer-involved task force that met for months and then recommended in October that the City of Jackson release the names of officers involved in shootings within 72 hours of the incident.
Lumumba apparently signed an executive order calling for that policy, but the City will not yet tell us what date he signed the order, nor has provided a copy. We have filed a public-records request for the order.
Neither JPD nor the City has released the names of Veasey and Carter as the officers involved in the shooting of Porter to date, much less within 72 hours, although it was easy to ascertain from the documents because it was the only one without further details and was at the bottom of the list indicating that it was the most recent officer-involved shooting. Sgt. Holmes then confirmed that it was the Porter incident.
The list the City provided to us showed Veasey listed in two earlier shootings since July 2017, with further details provided. On Nov. 15, 2017, Veasey along with other officers were conducting an "administrative checkpoint" in two spots near the area of James Garfield Circle and Abraham Lincoln Drive in Presidential Hills.
Mikelle Bracey, 24, who was driving a Delta 88 Oldsmobile, passed the first checkpoint, then stopped at the second. When officers approached, he hit the gas, hitting an officer's flashlight as he roared past, documents show. Police chased him and he ran into a grassy embankment.
Police say Bracey then got out and ran, with Veasey in the closest pursuit. Several of the officers, including Veasey, said they saw either a black or a silver item, or a gun, in his hand (depending on which officer's account) while he was running. In the backyard of a home, Veasey later told investigators, Bracey pulled out the gun, and the officer fired at him, striking him in the leg.
Police did not, however, recover the weapon officers reported seeing that night, or the next day.
Bracey was taken to the hospital and was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. His current status is not yet known. The documents show that, during the investigation of the officer-involved shooting, Bracey declined to talk to JPD further about it.
JPD Internal Affairs exonerated Veasey, saying his use of force was appropriate under the department's policy.
Veasey was next involved in a shooting on June 1, 2018, during a checkpoint at Maple Street near Congo. Police heard gunshots nearby, the documents provided to the Jackson Free Press show, and the dispatcher alerted them to the approximate location. They pulled up on front of a house on Calhoun Street in an unmarked police car. Veasey, along with Officers Lincoln Lampley and Desmond Barney, told investigators later that they announced themselves as police and were wearing vests with "POLICE" across the front.
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba has shielded names of officers involved in shootings since he took office in July 2017.
Officer Lampley apparently said, "Hey, how y'all doing?" and Veasey said, "Police!" before at least one of the group started firing on them, the investigation found. They returned fire hitting Spencer Jackson, who survived.
The documents show that one of the men on the scene, Robert White, said that he was among the group in front of the house who just had a family member killed. He said the group noticed a white (unmarked) car pull up and people getting out with rifles, thinking they were about to shoot into the group. He said he heard an officer say, "Hey people," but did not hear them identify themselves as police, and did not know they were officers until he was arrested.
JPD Internal Affairs exonerated the officers who fired that night, saying it was an appropriate use of force.
Follow Donna Ladd at @donnerkay on Twitter. Read more about officer-involved shootings in Jackson at jacksonfreepress.com/policeshootings. Send story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.