Jackson County sheriff back in courthouse office as grand jury convenes

mbbaker@sunherald.comAugust 22, 2013 

Former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd

PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd was back at his office at the courthouse on Thursday morning, his public information official, Cherie Ward, confirmed.

He was a no-show at his Jackson County Courthouse office in Pascagoula on Tuesday and Wednesday when it was speculated that Byrd might be stepping down amid an on-going grand jury investigation with links to Byrd and others who work under him.

Ward said, "He hasn't not been at work. He has been working this whole time. He's just been away from the department."

The Sun Herald has requested a comment from Byrd regarding his return to work, but so far there has been no response.

Byrd's attorney, Joe Sam Owen, said early Wednesday evening that Byrd would not be submitting his resignation.

"Whatever the next step in the process is, we just have to deal with it," Owen said Wednesday.

Byrd came under scrutiny after a July 2012 shooting at the office of the Narcotics Task of Jackson County went unreported. The former commander, Jackie Trussell, was later indicted on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault for firing a shot at the feet of another deputy, resulting in an injury. No paramedics were called to the scene. Byrd never disclosed information about the shooting.

Trussell on Thursday morning was spotted at the Jackson County courthouse, going in to testify before a grand jury, believed to the be same grand jury hearing evidence in the ongoing investigation with links to Byrd.

In recent months, allegations in lawsuits have surfaced accusing Byrd of targeting others for arrest. Former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan, for example, claims Byrd targeted him and others, including Ocean Springs Alderman Matt McDonnell, for arrest. McDonnell was never arrested.

In Hagan's suit, it was alleged that Byrd had such a habit of going after his political and personal enemies that sheriff's employees came up with an acronym for the investigations -- APE, short for Acute Political Emergency.

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