JACKSON, Miss. – A Mississippi police officer accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl died Monday in an apparent suicide, Jackson city officials said.
The officer was found in a Dodge Charger at around 12:45 p.m. The officer had pulled off the side of the highway, police spokesman Roderick Holmes said.
— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) May 27, 2019
In an interview with WLBT, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba identified the officer as 29-year-old James Hollins.
The apparent suicide follows allegations from a local attorney that the officer sexually assaulted a 15-year-old repeatedly in the back of a police cruiser, reported Clarion Ledger. The department had opened a criminal and internal investigation into the allegations, Holmes said.
Several sexually explicit videos show the officer with the minor in the back of his patrol car, Attorney Lisa Ross said.
Ross, who represents the mother of the alleged victim, told Jackson’s WLBT-TV that the teen’s mother reported the accusations to Chief James Davis on Saturday.
Holmes said the officer was placed on administrative leave after the department learned of the assault allegations.
Earlier on Monday, Holmes held a news conference to address the sexual assault allegations against the officer.
“All matters involving assault we take very seriously. We want the family to understand that if at any point in time, there’s evidence of wrongdoing going on, we will not hesitate to take action,” Holmes said.
The apparent suicide follows allegations from a local attorney that the officer sexually assaulted a 15-year-old in the back of a police cruiser. https://t.co/VT6H33UIei
— Hattiesburg American (@hburgamerican) May 28, 2019
When asked if the reported suicide on the highway earlier in the day was connected to the officer accused of sexually assaulting the girl, Holmes had said there was “no knowledge right now it’s connected,” USA Today reported.
However, the mayor was offering additional details.
Both lanes of the interstate were closed for over two hours Monday as law enforcement investigated.
According to Mayor Lumumba, Hollins was in his personal car, but used the service weapon of another officer.
“It’s not known to us now if the officer even knew their weapon had been taken in the moment,” said Mayor Lumumba.
Ross said the 15-year-old was approached by the officer and befriended. She added that the incidents took place several times a week over the six-month period and there are several sexually explicit videos of the officer with the minor in the back of his patrol car.
The teen’s mother caught onto the misconduct and the family and Ross reported it to the police chief on Saturday. They felt the chief hasn’t responded appropriately.
When asked to respond to criticism that Chief Davis “didn’t jump right out in front of this,” Mayor Lumumba gave a timeline. He said Chief James Davis called him Sunday and shared that the mother of the 15-year-old shared info and showed videos of Hollins to Davis.
Chief Davis asked to place Hollins on administrative leave and the mayor approved that decision.
The mayor said Davis called Internal Affairs, which sent Hollins a letter notifying him of the administrative leave, and Hollins signed that letter. Davis also began a criminal investigation.
Lumumba says he believed Chief Davis acted immediately, and said this in response to criticism that actions weren’t fast enough: “That is something that we don’t need to add to the narrative. The narrative is already sad, and it’s a bad story to begin with.”
Lumumba said his administration will always hold the police department to a high level of accountability.
“That doesn’t make me anti-police, but it does make me anti-police corruption,” added the mayor.
Ross said the family had plans to ask the US Attorney’s office and the Dept of Justice to begin an investigation.
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