Harrison County

Grand jury makes decision after Harrison County deputy shot teen to death at his house

Seth William Johnson was shot to death by a Harrison County deputy sheriff at this home on Lake Vista Drive near Gulfport in November. A grand jury has cleared the deputy of wrongdoing.
Seth William Johnson was shot to death by a Harrison County deputy sheriff at this home on Lake Vista Drive near Gulfport in November. A grand jury has cleared the deputy of wrongdoing. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

A Harrison County grand jury has found no wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old by a Harrison County deputy sheriff in November.

Seth William Johnson was shot in the chest while deputies responded to his home on Lake Vista Drive on a complaint that he had stolen a vehicle, Sheriff Troy Peterson said at the time.

Johnson had a knife when deputies confronted him, Peterson said.

A partial report released by the grand jury on Monday says, "while the grand jury regrets this unfortunate incident, it finds that no criminal conduct was involved in this matter by the Harrison County Sheriff's Department."

The one-sentence ruling said the grand jury had reviewed the Nov. 20, 2017, death of Johnson as a matter of concern.

The deputy's name was not released when the boy was shot to death at the home he shared with his grandmother and siblings in the 18000 block of Lake Vista. The street, which has a Gulfport address, is in the rural Cypress Pointe subdivision off Canal Road near Gulfport.

At the time, the sheriff said deputies went to the home about 7 p.m. and were confronted by an armed male. American Medical Response ambulance company sent paramedics to the neighborhood after hearing there was "a man with a knife," the sheriff said.

An ambulance crew took Johnson to a hospital, where he died.

The next day, a neighbor said she had heard a loud pop and recognized it as a gunshot.

"My first thought was of the grandmother and the children," Stephanie Morris said, calling the shooting "overwhelming."

Morris said she hoped the shooting would bring neighbors closer together.

"Not in an intrusive way," she said, "but so we are more a part of each other's lives and can be there to help each other out."

The sheriff called for an independent investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. The MBI turned its findings over to the District Attorney's Office and prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury.

South Mississippi law enforcement officials typically do not identify officers involved in a shooting involving a death or injuries until a grand jury rules on the results of an MBI investigation.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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