scorecardFamily heartbroken after grand jury clears officer who killed baby boy in Mississippi shootout
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Family heartbroken after grand jury clears officer who killed baby boy in Mississippi shootout

Ashley Collman   

Family heartbroken after grand jury clears officer who killed baby boy in Mississippi shootout
LifeInternational3 min read
La'Mello Parker.    Courtesy of Azyria Parker
  • The officers involved in a shootout that resulted in a 3-month-old baby being killed have been cleared.
  • A Harrison County, Mississippi, grand jury reviewed the incident and declined to press charges.

The relative of an infant who was killed in a shootout between the boy's father and police last year says she's upset with a grand jury's decision to clear the officers involved.

Lashunda Parker told Insider on Friday that it's "heartbreaking" that no one will he held responsible for the death of her cousin, La'Mello Parker.

La'Mello was just three months old on May 3, 2021, when his father, Eric Smith, kidnapped him and led police on a chase from Louisiana to Mississippi. Bystander video shows the moment multiple police vehicles surrounded Smith's car after it came to the stop in the middle of I-10. Seconds later the sound of multiple rounds of gunfire could be heard.

Smith was pronounced dead at the scene while baby La'Mello died at the hospital a day later.

The Biloxi Police Department headed the investigation into the officer-involved shooting, and turned the results of their investigation over to a Harrison County grand jury, which ultimately decided not to charge the officers involved, according to a partial grand jury report released to the public on Tuesday. The Harrison County District Attorney's Office did not immediately return Insider's email for comment on when the full report is expected to be released.

Officers 'got off easy'

Lashunda Parker said she doesn't think justice was done to her baby cousin, and felt the officers involved in the shootout "got off easy."

She said she's never received an apology from law enforcement agencies over what she calls a "pretty messed up situation."

Parker said she wishes someone would have at least been suspended or taken off the force for what happened.

New details about a tragic shootout

The grand jury report revealed more detail about the shooting than has been released to the public before.

The tragic day started with Smith killing La'Mello's mother, Christin Parker, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, then taking off with baby La'Mello and heading towards Mississippi.

Police officers from multiple jurisdictions were soon chasing Smith, using his cell phone to track his location.

A still shows the aftermath of the La'Mello Parker shooting.      WLOX

Once the chase crossed over into Mississippi, even more agencies got involved, and tried to stop Smith using a spike strip at the 11-mile marker of Interstate 10. Smith got of his vehicle soon after, shooting in the direction of police officers while holding his son, according to the grand jury report.

Smith then reentered his vehicle and continued to lead police on a chase. The report says "deputies made multiple attempts to contact Smith in an effort to negotiate a surrender, however, Smith failed to answer his phone."

At around the 40-mile marker on Interstate 10, the report says a deputy forced Smith's vehicle from the road and both vehicles got stuck in some mud.

The deputy got out of his vehicle and ran back towards the road, but then doubled back when he realized that his K-9 had gotten out of the vehicle.

"As a result, the deputy was in Smith's line of fire," the report continues. "Smith rolled down his driver side window, extended a handgun from the window, and fired in the direction of the deputy and others. Smith's bullet hit a nearby patrol unit. At this point, multiple law enforcement officers returned fire simultaneously, resulting in Smith being shot three times by law enforcement and La'Mello Parker being shot one time by law enforcement."

While the grand jury didn't recommend any charges, they did call on law enforcement agencies to "address procedures in place and implement training related to communication and chain of command in multi-jurisdictional cases."

Insider reached out to the Biloxi Police Department about whether the full results of the investigation would be released to the public, but did not immediately receive a response on Friday.

Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said Tuesday that La'Mello's death was his father's fault, calling Smith's actions "violent and reckless," according to WWLTV.

"Although all of the agencies involved took several steps to prevent this tragic outcome, La'Mello Parker's life was needlessly taken as a direct result of the violent actions of his father, Eric Smith," Tindell said.