Starkville ex-officer pleads to simple assault in shooting

February 3, 2022 GMT

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A former Mississippi police officer has pleaded guilty to simple assault for shooting and wounding a man who was pursued after a convenience store robbery.

Gary Wheeler was a Starkville Police Department officer on June 3, 2017, when he shot 19-year-old Zyterrious Gandy, the Commercial Dispatch reported. Officers were pursuing Gandy as a suspect in a convenience store robbery.

An Oktibbeha County grand jury indicted Wheeler in 2018 on a felony charge of aggravated assault. The indictment said Wheeler showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Wheeler entered a guilty plea Jan. 26 to simple assault — negligently causing serious bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months in jail, all suspended, plus six months of unsupervised probation and a $300 fine.

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The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case. Chief of Staff Michelle Williams told the newspaper Wednesday that after reviewing the evidence presented and due to the MBI investigation, people in the office thought a simple assault plea was in the best interest of justice.

Wheeler left the Starkville Police Department after the shooting.