TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The City of Tupelo has released police body camera footage from the detainment of local businessman Wesley Wells.
Police officers took Wells into custody while responding to a shoplifting report at The Mall at Barnes Crossing on Tuesday, March 16.
Mayor Jason Shelton said Wells was exercising nearby and wore similar clothing to that of one of the shoplifters.
Police later released him after determining he was not involved in the incident.
The city launched an internal investigation into how the police officers handled Wells’ temporary detainment.
The city suspended two officers without pay, and all three officers involved were ordered to sensitivity and de-escalation training. The suspended officers have since been reinstated.
On Monday, the mayor clarified the officers were disciplined for failing to comply with the police department's body camera policy.
According to the officers' reports filed immediately after the incident, one officer admitted to not having his body camera present during the entire situation.
Shelton also said audio is missing from some of the footage. He blamed this on a technical failure on one of the police vehicles.
In the footage showing the initial encounter with Wells, the officer reported "a white male in front of Dick's Sporting Goods" before exiting his patrol vehicle.
In the following minutes, the officer explained why he stopped Wells, saying he matched the description of a shoplifter.
When asked for his name, Wells does not initially provide his name. He later tells the officer his first name, then later provides his last name.
Wells complies with officers and placed his hands on the hood of a patrol vehicle. While being placed in handcuffs, the officer assured Wells is being detained not arrested.
The officer then transported Wells to a nearby mall entrance.
After officers removed Wells from the patrol vehicle, a second individual is later placed in the same vehicle. This second individual, a white male, is seen wearing what appears to be a white hat and a white shirt — the description provided to officers of the shoplifter.
Jason D. Herring, the attorney for officers Roy Noe and Daniel Porch, issued the following statement to WTVA on Monday.
“We’ve had very positive meetings with Mayor Shelton and the city’s legal counsel, Mr. [Ben] Logan. Officer Noe and Officer Porch are thankful for the support of the community and fellow officers. They are glad to be back on the job serving the City of Tupelo.”