Roadblock shooting

LPD Capt. Michael Reaves, left, at the scene of an early-morning officer-involved shooting with Deputy Jeff Monk, middle, and LPD officer Eddie Pitts. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

An Ellisville man was shot and wounded by a veteran Laurel police officer at a roadblock just before 1 a.m. on Friday.

The man was driving an older model Lincoln Town Car when he came up to the “safety checkpoint” at 10th Street and Highway 15 North, near Roses, sources with knowledge of the case said. The case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Laurel Police Department Chief Tommy Cox said. 

“We’re going to hold the crime scene and let them take the lead,” Cox said just before 3 a.m. “They will have our full cooperation.” 

Law enforcement agencies are not required to call another agency to investigate incidents they’re involved in, “but it’s best to have someone from the outside looking in,” Cox said. “We’re going to let the process play out.”

Cox deferred to the state agency to tell the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Sources with knowledge of the case said the driver was told to pull to the side of 10th Street for further investigation, so the passengers got out, but the driver refused. He reportedly ignored verbal commands, and after being told to put his hands behind his back, he was tased once or twice, but it seemed to have little effect on him, said witnesses who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

The suspect then “made a move to his waistband,” and that’s when the officer fired his weapon. It was not known if the man had a weapon or not. 

An LPD SUV and the Town Car were inside crime-scene tape. The police vehicle was on the north side of 10th Street, in the parking lot of the Shell station, and the Lincoln was on the south side of 10th Street, in front of Title Cash.  

The SUV is usually driven by the shift supervisor, and the supervisor for the shift that was on duty is Mitch Sumrall. He was not at the scene when a reporter arrived. Sources with knowledge of the incident confirmed that it was Sumrall who pulled the trigger. Sumrall has more than 20 years of law enforcement, and it’s believed that he has never been involved in a shooting and he is known as one “who gets along with everybody,” someone close to him said.

The man who was shot was identified as Mekail Amos Thomas, 28, of Ellisville. He was transported to Forrest General Hospital where he was listed in good condition. He reportedly had to be tased again even after being shot.

Police protocol calls for an officer involved in a shooting to be placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the results of the investigation.

“That’s just standard, so the investigation can be conducted and to make sure the officer’s OK,” Cox said.

No other information was available. An MBI officer reportedly came to the scene at approximately 4 a.m., then left for the hospital.

It is believed to be the first officer-involved shooting in Laurel in almost a decade. The last was in 2010, when a suspect was killed by police gunfire on 1st Avenue.

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