Report: Syringe led to shooting at narcotics task force office

mbbaker@sunherald.comOctober 10, 2012 

PASCAGOULA -- The former commander of the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County says in a written report that he "drew my pistol and shot a round in the floor" at the feet of another agent who "poked" at him with a syringe at the task force's Pascagoula office.

Jackson County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jackie Trussell, then the task force commander, described what led him to fire his weapon in a report he wrote after the July 31 incident. In a second, supplemental report written in September, when an independent investigation was started, Trussell described how task force members administered medical treatment to Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Chad Powell, in the task force office, first administering lidocaine and then stitching a cut on his left shin that he said resulted from concrete fragments when the bullet struck the floor.

Trussell wrote the Sept. 6 supplemental report at about the time Moss Point Police Chief Keith Davis called for an independent investigation of the shooting, which the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation handled at the request of Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd. The results of that investigation have been turned over to Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence. Lawrence said he plans to present the findings in November to a Jackson County grand jury.

In the documents, obtained by the Sun Herald, Trussell said Agent Powell poked a syringe at him several times.

"I am deathly afraid of needles and I told Agent Powell don't get around me with the needle," he wrote. "Agent Powell poked at me the second time and I told him that I would hurt him if he poked at me again with the needle. The third time he poked at me with the needle, he was close to me and the left side of my body got cold and numb and I drew my pistol and shot a round in the floor by his feet and I told him to get the (expletive) needle away from me."

Powell walked away, but was grabbing his left shin, Trussell said. Powell threw the needle he'd been poking at Trussell against a wall in the Task Force conference room.

"The round did not strike Agent Powell," Trussell wrote. "The round splattered and Agent Powell was struck by a partial piece of the concrete."

Powell told Trussell he was "OK" and did not require professional medical treatment, the report said. Trussell said he and another Jackson County sheriff's deputy assigned to the task force, Sgt. Shawn Kimmerly, treated the wound.

Trussell wrote the supplemental report after Davis learned of the shooting through independent sources and called an emergency meeting of the task force's executive board.

The board consists of Byrd and the police chiefs in the surrounding municipalities of Gautier, Ocean Springs, Moss Point and Gautier.

Board members requested an independent investigation into the shooting, although Byrd told them the investigation had already been handled internally. Trussell was suspended for three days around the time of the shooting.

Trussell's supplemental report says right after the shooting, he called Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agent Todd McGehee, who at the time was assigned to work at the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Trussell said he called to ask McGehee for a first aid kit he carried in his truck.

McGehee went to the task force office with his first aid kit. Kimmerly said Powell needed two stitches as a result of the injury.

"Agent McGehee made a phone call and went and retrieved a suture kit," Trussell's report says. The report does not say who gave McGehee the suture kit.

"Sgt. Kimmerly opened the suture kit and utilized lidocaine in the suture kit and placed two stitches in Agent Powell's left shin," Trussell said.

At that point, Trussell said agents recovered the needle Powell had thrown against the conference room wall after he was injured and placed it into "the hazardous materials sharps bin."

"I recovered a partial piece of the fragmented round out of the hallway wall," Trussell said. "I picked up a piece of fragmented jacket off the floor. I gave the fragmented pieces to Agent Powell. Agent Powell placed the fragments on the table in the office. The fragmented pieces were thrown away from the table."

Powell, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, did not want the incident reported to the sheriff, the report said.

Byrd has denied a request from the Sun Herald for law enforcement reports about the incident.

The Sun Herald contacted Byrd on Wednesday to discuss the additional details about the shooting.

"I'm not talking about that anymore," he said. "We've already ... taken care of all that and it's a personnel issue and I'm not discussing it anymore."

In an earlier statement, Byrd referred to the shooting as an accident. After the MBI investigation was completed, he issued a statement saying: "I have been told by an MBI investigator that there was no criminal wrongdoing whatsoever. I look forward to seeing the grand jury findings and putting this entire matter behind us."

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