Harrison County

Biloxi security guard who pepper-sprayed Boosie finally speaks out. Are the videos deceiving?

Videos show Boosie Badazz pepper spray incident at Dillard’s

Dillard's surveillance video submitted as evidence in a federal lawsuit, coupled with cell phone video, show an April 2017 encounter between a store security guard using pepper spray and rapper Boosie Badazz and his entourage.
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Dillard's surveillance video submitted as evidence in a federal lawsuit, coupled with cell phone video, show an April 2017 encounter between a store security guard using pepper spray and rapper Boosie Badazz and his entourage.

As the crowd shoved him to the ground and swarmed over him, Dillard’s security officer Glen Kerley’s mind switched to auto pilot.

He wasn’t thinking about how badly he might be injured. He didn’t cry out. Instead, Kerley reached for his gun. He knew he needed to cover it up before someone tried to grab it.

He holds up his arm, showing the white scars where his wrist scraped the pavement while he secured the weapon.

“When 30 people grab you,” the retired law enforcement officer says, “there’s very little you can do about it.”

Kerley is the former Dillard’s security officer who pepper-sprayed members of a group shopping with Baton Rouge rapper Boosie Badazz on April 9, 2017, the day after he performed at a black spring break 2017 concert.

The incident would prompt lawsuits and profanity-laced Instagram videos from Boosie, who has 6 million followers and let everyone know he felt like a victim of racism.

Kerley, 55, has never spoken publicly about what happened. The retired Biloxi police officer is still working security but no longer at Dillard’s.

He sat down with the Sun Herald last week, after prevailing in a lawsuit he brought against the rapper and his bodyguard, Larry Anderson. They didn’t show up for court, so the judge entered a $233,128.54 default verdict for Kerley, who identified Boosie and Anderson as two of his attackers outside Dillard’s.

The judgment — if and when Kerley attorney David Krause of Ocean Springs can collect it — will cover Kerley’s medical bills from a concussion and injured neck, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

Pepper spray deployed

Kerley first encountered Boosie and his entourage as they walked into Dillard’s from the mall’s common area. Kerley was notified that the group had been told to leave the mall. He still doesn’t know why.

Boosie had attracted a crowd. Kerley said the crowd eventually followed the rapper’s entourage into Dillard’s but remained on the fringes.

Kerley first asked Boosie’s group to leave in the fragrance section, near the interior mall entrance. The security guard was thinking about all the glass cases, the sharp edges, what could happen to employees and bystanders if a fight broke out.

“I was trying to get them out,” he said. “One of the guys turned on me and said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ ” He said the man had his fist balled up. Sensing a fight was about to start, Kerley pepper-sprayed the man.

“The fight never happened and he moved on,” Kerley said. “The pepper spray worked exactly as intended.”

The group then headed to the Polo section, where video shows Kerley pepper-spraying a man in the face while several others, including Boosie, stood nearby. The rapper wearing a pink T-shirt and pink pants was easy to spot in surveillance footage.

Kerley said the man he was pepper-spraying was saying, “Come on, me and you. Right here. Right now.”

Minimizing damage

Boosie later claimed that Kerley used the “n-word” and called one of the men “boy.” This claim particularly pains Kerley, who says it is not true. He is retired from the Biloxi Police Department and said he is experienced in how to approach people and in the use of force.

His approach is to treat everyone with respect. “You don’t have to berate,” he said. “You don’t have to degrade.”

His sole aim, he said, was to get the group out of Dillard’s before a fight broke out inside, endangering employees and shoppers.

He said he was knocked in the head a couple of times in the store and once again as he exited with the group.

A Biloxi police officer was on the scene from the time the group entered Dillard’s, his own sworn statement says, but he did not intervene until a member of the group lunged at Kerley as they were all on their way out the south door.

At some point there on the ground, Kerley lost consciousness. He was in and out until Biloxi police broke up the pile-on.

“That whole meleé, that could have happened in the store,” Kerley said. “When you have something like that break out in a closed establishment, there’s no place to go.”

The aftermath

Some of the Boosie fans and other onlookers were, of course, videoing the encounters between Kerley and Boosie and his crew.

Edited videos and commentary soon popped up on YouTube, Kerley said. Comments accompanying those videos referred to racism and police corruption, how people had been treated wrong in Biloxi.

“Biloxi caught a bad rap and all that,” Kerley said. “The only thing being put out there was off YouTube and it was very, very censored.

“You can’t sit there and go tit for tat on YouTube. You just have to take it.”

If he could just say one thing about all that happened, Kerley said, it would be this: “I wish people would take a step back and look at the way things are down here. We don’t treat people like that on the Coast.”

“Look at how we are — not how somebody’s telling you we are.”

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Anita Lee is a Mississippi native who specializes in investigative, court and government reporting. She has covered South Mississippi’s biggest stories in her decades at the Sun Herald, including the Dixie Mafia, public corruption and Hurricane Katrina, a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort. Nothing upsets her more than government secrecy and seeing people suffer.
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