Jackson County sheriff returns to work as grand jury convenes

Sun HeraldAugust 22, 2013 

PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd was back in his office at the courthouse Thursday morning as the district attorney called a steady stream of witnesses to testify before a grand jury one floor above him.

Many of the witnesses are believed to be testifying in an investigation with links to Byrd and others in his office.

Speculation that Byrd might resign arose when he did not show up at his office Tuesday and Wednesday.

His attorney, Joe Sam Owen, quashed the rumors and said Byrd would not resign.

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

On Thursday morning, Byrd emerged from the locked corridor where his office is on the ground floor of the courthouse and granted a short interview in the foyer.

Dressed in his police uniform, he told the Sun Herald, "everything is fine. We're up and running.

"I'm just continuing in my capacity as sheriff. I don't know how all these rumors started. I'm going to continue to do my job and go forward."

He said he plans to be in the office today. When asked about the grand jury meeting upstairs, he said he could not comment.

When asked about the rumors flying earlier in the week, he said, "There's rumors that have been going on for 14 years," the length of time he has been in office.

Byrd came under scrutiny after a July 2012 shooting at the office of the Narcotics Task of Jackson County went unreported. Then-Cmdr. 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.

Trussell was spotted Thursday morning at the courthouse.

In recent months, allegations have surfaced in lawsuits accusing Byrd of targeting people for arrest.

Former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan, for example, claims Byrd targeted him and others, including Ocean Springs Alderman Matt McDonnell. McDonnell was never arrested. Hagan also was spotted at the courthouse Thursday.

When asked in June for a response to the allegations when the lawsuit was filed, Byrd had said, "Bring it on. We're ready."

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