When Will Hattiesburg, Mississippi Suspects Appear In Court For The Deaths Of Officers Benjamin Deen & Liquori Tate?
The city of Hattiesburg, Mississippi was mourning the death of two police officers Monday. Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate were shot and killed Saturday night during a routine traffic stop, according to The Guardian. A memorial service for the officers was held in Hattiesburg Monday, and the four suspects arrested in connection with the shootings appeared in court for the first time. Deen, 34, and Tate, 25, were the first officers killed in the line of duty in the city since 1984, according to The Guardian. The suspects appeared before Judge Gay Polk-Payton Monday at 3 p.m. at the Forrest County jail, according to the Hattiesburg American.
Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the murders: Marvin Banks and Joanie Calloway were charged with two counts of capital murder. Banks was also charged with felon possession of a firearm and grand theft auto for fleeing in one of the patrolmen's vehicles after the shooting. Banks' brother, Curtis Banks, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder. The fourth suspect, Cornelius Clark, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, according to USA Today. It's not yet clear which of the four allegedly shot and killed the two officers.
A memorial service was held for Deen and Tate Monday afternoon, and family and Hattiesburg residents filled the Lake Terrace Convention Center, according to the Hattiesburg American. Gov. Phil Bryant addressed the crowd:
You will persevere. You will prevail. The will of the men and women who wear that badge is strong.
Tate has been described by CNN as a "rookie cop ... [who] fulfilled a lifelong dream," while Deen was "a family man" named as his department's Officer of the Year a few years ago. Tate's father, Ronald Tate, said his son loved police cars ever since he was little. He would zip around in a motorized miniature cruiser. Ronald Tate told CNN about his son:
He had this enthusiasm, this fire in his soul, and I knew he meant that. He really knew the risk, but I think my son just thought people ... are generally good people, so let's treat them all with dignity.
Ronald Tate and his son spoke on the phone regularly and texted daily, according to CNN. Liquori Tate grew up in Germany when his father was stationed there in the military, so easily made friends with people from a variety of backgrounds, according to his father. Ronald Tate described his son as "a guy who understood and loved everybody":
My son didn't see color. ... We didn't have all this animosity between races, and my son didn't see that. He didn't have time for that. He was just mellow and laid back and didn't want to get into that.
Tate was close with all of his family members, according to The Guardian. His younger sister, Alonté Tate, was the last family member who spoke to him before he died. She told The Guardian she accidentally pressed an emergency alert on her phone that contacts her protective older brother:
I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d hear his voice.
Deen, nicknamed B.J., was a K-9 handler for the department. He was named Officer of the Year in 2012 and also received the Service from the Heart award from a local group that year, according to CNN. Rob England, a Southern Mississippi Police Department employee who said he had known Deen for about seven years, said he "loved his family and his job":
B.J. Deen was a good officer, father, and husband. And a damn good friend.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a statement Monday and said the Department of Justice "stands ready to offer any possible aid to the Hattiesburg community" and that the department will continue to do all it can to support "those who wear the badge," according to USA Today:
The shocking assault on law enforcement officers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, struck at the heart of that great city. ... 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.
No official timeline for the trial has been released.
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