COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) - At City Hall in Columbus, city leaders gathered to address concerns and questions citizens had about police procedure and the legal status of the Ricky Ball shooting.
"We're not taught that in academy, and that's not an authorized technique," Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said pointing to a picture of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on the neck of George Floyd.
Shelton outlined the various use of force situations and what his police are trained to do and when. He also stated that if a person experiences unnecessary use of force by police, to contact his office. He and the police oversight committee in Columbus review those cases and the body camera footage. Shelton said that his officers are required to use body cameras and they are working to expand their technology to dash cams.
"If it's a lawful action, we have a right to do a lawful action," Shelton said. "Our officers are trained and should know without a doubt because we have policies in place."
Columbus District Attorney Scott Colom spoke at length about developing a class to educate the police department on inherent bias, which he asserted that are present in every person, not just police.
"What we've gotta do is acknowledge that these biases exist," Colom said. "We have to have police officers who are honest and courageous enough to acknowledge to have what everyone has but yet be willing to receive the training necessary to address it."
Colom also addressed the Ricky Ball case. He stated that his office, from a legal standpoint, can't do anything about the case. However, they are petitioning the FBI to re-open it, but according to Colom that may be an uphill battle.
"It's important that we not give the false impression that the FBI is currently looking at this case," Colom said. "I don't want you think that I can force the FBI, under the current administration to investigate this case."
Colom added that he will be posting evidence from the case on his website for people to review and "make up their own minds" about the case. Several other people spoke at the town hall as well. As Mayor Robert Smith put it, it's important to have these conversations, to hear the concerns as cities and towns across the United States try to create a better society for all.
The full version of the town hall is located here: Columbus Town Hall