Grand juries have cleared three Jackson County deputies in two unrelated shootings, one involving the shooting death of an Army veteran at a St. Martin hotel.
Deputy Jonathan Blakeney and Sgt. Mike Nutefall were involved in the May shooting death of Christian Bowman, 23. Bowman was shot in a room at the Ramada Inn near Exit 50 on north Washington Avenue. A Jackson County grand jury cleared them.
The other shooting was in D’Iberville in an October high-speed chase. A Harrison County grand jury cleared Nutefall and deputy Nathan Fisher in that incident.
Army veteran killed
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The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent probe of Bowman’s fatal shooting.
Sheriff Mike Ezell said deputies shot Bowman after he became “aggressively combative toward the officer.”
One deputy and Bowman fought, Ezell had said, and another deputy arrived to try to help “subdue” Bowman.
Ezell said the fight escalated until one of the deputies shot Bowman.
In the grand jury report on the shooting, there is no information that sheds any light on the events that night.
The sheriff initially said deputies had gone to the hotel to investigate a drug-related incident, but later said the incident also involved a taxi-cab complaint.
A mother’s questions
Bowman’s mother, Sherry Bowman, questioned early on why deputies had to kill her son.
In an interview with the Sun Herald last year, she said a witness provided her with graphic details of the fatal shooting. She said he had been “brutally” beaten before he was shot to death.
She said a witness in the room when the fight took place had described deputies hitting him with their heavy-duty flashlights, and “beating him in the face, they were punching him, kicking him, then took their pistols out, was pistol-whipping him.”
She had said she also learned her son had been asleep when deputies came into the room and he was likely confused.
She said she had one question she wanted authorities to answer.
“I don’t understand why they would beat him and then shoot him. They had Tasers, for God’s sake.”
She has hired an attorney to represent her regarding her son’s death.
In the second shooting, deputies shot and wounded a woman following a high-speed chase that began on Interstate 10 in Jackson County and ended in D’Iberville.
D’Iberville police got involved after a stolen truck exited at Lamey Bridge Road. The pickup was then cut off by more patrol vehicles and, at one point, officials had said, the driver stopped, reversed, crashed into the front of a D’Iberville police car and took off again.
The pickup later hit a Ford Taurus, injuring its driver, then another car a short time later.
After the driver headed east onto Bachman Road, the truck wrecked and came to a halt. Shots were fired at that point.
A Harrison County grand jury ruled on the shooting involving the Jackson County deputies there.