Police finish probe of infant’s death in I-10 shootout

February 11, 2022 GMT

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — An investigation into last year’s shooting death of an infant and his father after a low-speed pursuit by law enforcement is now in the hands of a south Mississippi district attorney, police in Biloxi said Thursday.

Three-month-old La’mello Parker and his father Eric Smith were killed in May during a vehicle chase on Interstate 10 between officers and Smith that ended in a deadly shootout. Authorities had said Smith was the suspect in a double-murder in Louisiana.

The Biloxi Police Department said Thursday that the investigation is now in the hands of the Harrison County District Attorney’s Office.

Activists from multiple groups, including the Mississippi Rising Coalition, Black Lives Matter and the American Descendants of Slaves, have been pushing for answers and demanding transparency in the investigation of Parker’s death.

Harrison County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell said the investigative file received from Biloxi Police includes reports, statements, videos, and forensic testing — many of the items that activists say should have been released to the public immediately, news outlets reported.

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The district attorney’s office has pledged to present the complete file to a grand jury as soon as prosecutors finish reviewing it.

“Due to legal and ethical obligations, the District Attorney’s Office cannot comment on the content of the file or when the file will be presented to the grand jury,” Burrell said.

Biloxi police handled the investigation, but reached out to the FBI crime lab to analyze evidence — including shell casings — collected at the shooting site.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller did not comment further on the findings.

“Our job is to investigate it and put all the facts together and present it to the district attorney,” Miller said Thursday. “I think a lot of people think our job is more than that, but the judicial system comes into play at that point.”

Police have said the shooting occurred after the low-speed pursuit with the baby’s father. Authorities said Smith had just left Louisiana after allegedly shooting and killing the infant’s mother, Christin Parker, 32, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26, at their home near Baton Rouge the same day of the police shootout in Harrison County.

Smith left the house with the child and drove into Mississippi, where law enforcement started pursuing him on I-10 around Gulfport, according to authorities. Officers used spikes to flatten his tires, and he drove at speeds as slow at 10 mph at times. At one point, Smith drove his car into the interstate median near an exit.

What happened next is not exactly clear, but Biloxi police said Smith was getting out of his car when officers opened fire.

Videos of the shooting show that law enforcement fired more than 20 rounds into Smith’s car. Smith died at the scene, and the infant died a day later of a gunshot wound to the back, according to officials.