The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s look into the Ricky Ball case is making progress, according to Columbus Police Department Interim Chief Fred Shelton.
Shelton, who said he’s been in contact with an MBI representative, provided an update on the case during Tuesday’s Columbus City Council meeting.
Shelton said a preliminary autopsy has been completed, but MBI is not ready to release their findings. He also said MBI has taken witness statements and is awaiting evidence testing from the State Crime Lab.
Ball, 26, was fatally shot in an officer-involved incident on Oct. 16. The incident sparked community outrage and led the council to fire officer Canyon Boykin and suspend officers Johnny Branch and Yolanda Young without pay. Branch and Young have since returned to service.
It’s unclear what happened to Ball during the incident.
At 10:08 p.m. Oct. 16, Boykin, Branch and Young, who were riding together, attempted to pull over a vehicle near 22nd Street North and 15th Avenue North. Former Police Chief Tony Carleton said the officers, who were members of CPD’s now-disbanded special operations group, initiated the stop for careless driving, no light above the license plate and lack of insurance.
Ball was a passenger in the vehicle. He jumped out and fled on foot, according to authorities.
What happened next is still unclear. CPD officials have said a “scuffle” ensued as officers attempted to arrest Ball. The struggle ended after an officer shot Ball.
The remaining details are still under investigation.
“We don’t want to put anything out prematurely before we get the final report,” Shelton told councilmen. “We’ve also made an agreement that every two weeks, I will call and he will update me. He was still not able to give me a specific time when all the evidence will be ready. As things start becoming available, he will let me know everything — we’ll stay in contact every two weeks and I will update you as he updates me.
Shelton said the investigation’s findings will be turned over to District Attorney Scott Colom once MBI concludes its work.
“That information will be submitted to the district attorney and the district attorney will make a determination of where we will go with the case form there,” he said.
CPD body camera usage rising
December saw the highest number of monthly body camera video uploads yet from CPD officers, according to a press release.
Officers uploaded 662 hours of video spread across 4,329 files in December — 27 percent more than the 526 hours across 3,399 files uploaded in November.
Shelton credited the department’s body camera retraining efforts for the increase.
“We are making progress,” he said. “We know the importance of the camera use. We have been training and working with officers on the camera use. The increase in the camera use shows the response of our officers to our training.”
Officers now upload about 130 videos for every 24-hour shift.
CPD has implemented several changes to its body camera policy since the Ball incident. Most notably, the council recently approved much stiffer penalties for officers who fail to comply with the department’s body camera policy.
CPD’s policy requires that officers activate their body cameras for any interaction with the public. Those videos are also required to be uploaded to a Tesla-hosted server at the end of an officer’s shift.
Officers who fail to follow the policy face a 10-day suspension without pay for a first offense; a 30-day suspension or termination for a second offense; and termination for a third offense.
None of the officers involved in the Ball incident activated their cameras until after Ball had been shot.