Harrison County

Gulfport police video confirms and contradicts statements from family held at gunpoint

Police video that Chief Leonard Papania released Wednesday evening on Facebook contradicts at least two things Kelvin Fairley told the Sun Herald about being handcuffed and held at gunpoint Sunday night and confirms a couple of other points he made about how police handled the situation.

▪  A police supervisor on the scene did apologize to Fairley — twice — for the stop, when Fairley said he received no apology.

▪  If officers repeatedly said, ‘Shut the f --- up,” when Fairley asked why he was being detained, it is not audible on the video Papania supplied.

▪  Once the mistake had been cleared up, an officer did, as Fairley said, tell his wife, “Good adrenaline rush for you.” His wife, Natasha Krikorian, was clearly upset by the remark, telling the officers, “I’m a psychologist. That was not ok.”

▪  At least one gun is still pointed at the Fairley children in the back seat after police can be heard saying the rear-passenger seat occupants are “kids.”

During the Facebook video, Papania also elaborated on why officers approached the Fairleys in such a wary fashion Sunday evening on Dedeaux Road, where police pulled over the family outside their subdivision.

A neighbor had not only called police to report a burglary in progress in the Wingate subdivision, as previously reported but said the lights were off in the house and a number of “suspects” were moving around inside with flashlights.

While police sped to the subdivision, the neighbor told a dispatcher the suspects were loading up and leaving in a dark SUV.

The Sun Herald had been trying to get these details from the department since first reporting on the incident Monday afternoon. But Papania waited until his Wednesday evening Facebook video to release the information.

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Police had previously said only that a neighbor reported a burglary and, after further questions from the Sun Herald on Tuesday, added that a dark-colored SUV was seen leaving the house.

Police first instructed Fairley to get out of the car, hands up. They put him in a patrol car, then repeated the procedure with Krikorian, who was in the front passenger seat. Officers also told everyone to roll down their windows.

Only after the adults were out of the car did officers approach, guns drawn, to remove the children.

“This was reasonable under the circumstances,” Papania said. “With this information, the officers utilized proper law enforcement tactics that would allow for safe detention of the individuals in the vehicle while offering the officers the ability to safely handle the situation as it developed.”

“ . . . We do not have the luxury of hindsight and must act reasonably on the information provided. We did just that.”

Papania agreed with Fairley and Krikorkian that their treatment was less than ideal when they went to the department to complain and request copies of police audio and video. Fairley told the Sun Herald on Monday that if the officer on duty had apologized rather than acting rudely, the whole incident would have ended right there.

Instead, a relative who accompanied the Fairleys to the department shot a video that went viral after it was posted Monday morning.

Papania said on his video, “I’m not satisfied with our performance at the station that night.”

Fairley told the Sun Herald he thought the handling of the stop was racially motivated. He is black, as are his children. All officers visible in the police videos were white.

Papania said on Facebook, “There was nothing in my review of this matter that indicated racially biased actions or misconduct.”

Fairley said he has seen videos of black men being killed by police officers. He said he was scared something bad might happen and he had no idea why he was being pulled over.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99