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Pike County NAACP leader praises sheriff in firing of deputy

July 18, 2021 GMT

McCOMB, Miss. (AP) — A local NAACP leader in Mississippi is praising a sheriff after he fired a deputy who was accused of acting disrespectfully toward people who were upset at a scene where the burned body of a Black man was found.

The Enterprise-Journal reported a Pike County deputy was recorded smiling and widening his eyes at people on the scene where the body of Derecus A. Conerly, 20, was found June 28 in a vehicle north of Summit.

A video clip gained attention online as family members and bystanders said the deputy’s behavior was disrespectful. The NAACP demanded the deputy resign. After an internal investigation, Pike County Sheriff James Brumfield announced his termination. Brumfield and the former deputy, Kyle Huhn, are both white.

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Before he was fired, Huhn told the Enterprise-Journal that he would like to defend himself but didn’t consider it wise to comment at the time.

Mamie Kettle is president of the McComb branch of the civil rights organization

“I just want to commend the sheriff,” Kettle said Thursday at a county supervisors meeting. “He was between a rock and a hard place, and he stepped up and did the right thing.”

She thanked the public for giving the sheriff time to make his decision.

“I believe the community was satisfied with the results,” Kettle said.

The Mississippi Crime Lab said Conerly died of three gunshots in the head and neck. Kettle said the investigation into the killing continues. Kettle also said has a good working relationship with the sheriff.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to have an open relationship and be transparent,” she said.