Who Were Mississippi Officers Benjamin Deen & Liquori Tate? The Two Were The First Hattiesburg Police Deaths In 30 Years

On Saturday night, two Hattiesburg, Mississippi, police officers lost their lives. At around 8 p.m., Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25, were fatally shot during a routine traffic stop. The officers died shortly after they were taken to Forrest General Hospital. Three alleged suspects — Curtis Banks, 26, Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22 — were taken into custody early Sunday morning, but the investigation into the officers’ deaths is just beginning. The shooting deaths of Deen and Tate were the first police deaths that Hattiesburg had seen since 1984, according to The New York Times.

Tate, 25, was a recent graduate of the police academy and had not yet come up on his first anniversary with the police department. According to a post on Tate’s Facebook page in which he thanked his friends and family for their support, Tate graduated just last summer, on June 11, 2014. Upon graduation, Tate was awarded the “Top Shot Proficiency Pistol Award.” Before joining the Hattiesburg Police Department, Tate graduated from South Pike High School and then went on to attend Southwest Mississippi Community College. Tate was not married and didn't have any children, but he seemed to be very involved with his family. His personal Facebook page is filled with photos of him and his siblings.

Friends and family, including Tate's father, Ronald Tate, mourned their loss on social media. Tate's father told the Los Angeles Times:

Man, oh God, I can’t begin to explain to you what that does to a parent. You know, that just killed me, that took my time -- the clocks, the hands -- everything stopped moving. Sleep don’t matter no more, food don’t matter no more. I haven’t eaten, I haven’t slept, my body don’t care. All the things you think matter in life … all of that went out the door. It stopped me, it stopped my time, nothing matters no more. If I could have traded everything I could in that minute to get my son back, I would have” done it.

Deen, 34, was married to his wife Robin and was the father of two children, Melah, 12, and Walker, 9. He was a canine officer and had previously been commended for his work in the Hattiesburg Police Department. According to The Clarion-Ledger, Deen was named Hattiesburg Police Department Officer of the Year in 2012, and a spokesperson for the Deen family told the Los Angeles Times that the award was for rescuing a man from a burning building. The spokesperson, who asked not to be identified, told the LA Times:

The two things that really summed him up as far as a person, he didn’t go anywhere without his family, ever. The day before he went on shift and passed away, he had just been out with his son – they were out target shooting with each other – he was boasting, he was proud of his son. ... He was honestly a friend to everyone he met, he loved serving his community, he loved being a cop.

Police deaths are incredibly rare in Hattiesburg, and the line-of-duty death toll in the city’s history now totals six. The last time that two officers died in the same day was on March 9, 1952, when two officers were fatally wounded after responding to a burglary call.

As of this point, investigators have yet to reveal a potential motive for the shooting deaths of Tate and Deen. Interviews with the three suspects in custody are ongoing, and the results from toxicology tests remain pending. More information will likely surface Monday, when the suspects are scheduled to appear in court. As of Sunday, the suspects were being held in the county jail, and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety announced that Marvin Banks and Calloway were each charged with capital murder, and Curtis Banks was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder. Both Banks men allegedly have criminal records, CNN reported. Curtis Banks told reporters he did not kill the police officers, according to the Clarion-Ledger.