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NAACP calls for footage release after baby dies in shootout

May 15, 2021 GMT

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi NAACP chapter is demanding access to reports and videos that show how a 3-month-old baby died after his father was killed in a shootout with police on a highway on May 3. The request follows similar calls from activists with Black Lives Matter Mississippi.

“The Biloxi NAACP is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation,” the organization said in a statement on Facebook. “It is important that local authorities proactively work to increase transparency and grow public trust.”

The baby, La’Mello Parker, was killed May 3 on Interstate 10 near Biloxi after his father, Eric Derell Smith, led police on a chase across state lines.

The pursuit was joined by more than a dozen officers from the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.

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Smith, 30, was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, Christin, and her nephew at a home in Baker, Louisiana, earlier that day. Smith then kidnapped La’Mello and left the scene, according to investigators.

A video taken by a bystander shows the final barrage of gunfire after more than a dozen law enforcement vehicles pursued Smith’s car. Police said both Smith and officers fired weapons.

An autopsy determined that La’Mello died of a single gunshot wound. The coroner of Harrison County, Mississippi — Brian Switzer — told The Associated Press that Biloxi police investigators would examine the bullet to try to determine the source of the fatal shot.

Investigators won’t say whether any officers were wearing body cameras at the time. Biloxi police are investigating because none of that department’s officers were involved. Biloxi Police Major Chris DeBack said results of the investigation would be handed over to the district attorney’s office.