Share this story...
Latest News

Mother: Son accused in officer killings had drug problem

Area residents Alberta Harris, center, and Waynetta Theodore, left, and Christiena Preston, console each other as they pay their respects at a makeshift memorial, near the site where two Mississippi police officers were killed, Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hattiesburg, Miss. The officers were shot to death during an evening traffic stop turned violent, a state law enforcement spokesman said Sunday. Three suspects were in custody, including two who are charged with capital murder. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Marvin Banks’ drug use and drinking had worsened in recent years and he was hearing voices in his head.

His mother said she had hoped he would get help. He didn’t, and now he is charged with capital murder in the deaths of two police officers in Mississippi. His girlfriend and brother are charged as accessories and a friend faces an obstruction charge.

Banks’ mother, Mary Smith, said when she saw the booking photos of her 26-year-old son, she knew something was off.

“He was sick and out of his head and I tried to get him some help,” she said on the steps of the Forrest County Courthouse, where she had gone to find out more information about her sons’ arrest.

Marvin Banks had been smoking synthetic marijuana, known as spice, every day.

“He was on that spice. He was on every drug there was. Spice, powder, marijuana, drinking,” she said.

Marvin Banks is accused of shooting officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. The officers died Saturday after Deen was shot in the face, and Tate in the back.

Banks and another man identified as Cornelius Clark were passengers in a Hyundai that Deen stopped for speeding, said Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain. The car was driven by Banks’ girlfriend, 22-year-old Joanie Calloway, Strain said. Deen called Tate for backup when he decided to search the car. Strain said that when officers asked the three to get out of the car, Banks shot Deen and Tate.

Calloway was initially charged with two counts of murder, but authorities lowered those charges to accessory to murder after the fact Monday. Clark, 28, is charged with obstruction. Banks’ brother, 29-year-old Curtis Banks, is also charged with accessory to murder after the fact.

More than 1,000 people filled a hall at the Hattiesburg convention center Monday for a memorial. With photos of the uniformed men projected above the stage, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant — himself a former sheriff’s deputy — said the city was enduring a difficult, sad time.

“We will persevere, we will prevail,” he said.

Marvin Banks and his 6-year-old son lived with Smith, who works the night shift at a nursing home. She said she was resting before work when she got a call Saturday night that her son, known by “Big Boy,” was involved in the shootings.

After that, Curtis Banks called and said he had nothing to do with it and had been at his apartment at the time.

Smith said Marvin was attacked several years ago by a man who hit him in the head with a pipe. The reason for the attack wasn’t clear, but he spent time in intensive care.

She said she repeatedly urged him to get help for his drug addiction and apparent mental illness, but he wouldn’t go.

Katie Walmon, the mother of Marvin’s son, said he had changed.

“He said he was hearing voices in his head. I say it was the devil,” she said.

In their initial court appearance Monday, Forrest County Justice Court Judge Gay Polk-Payton denied bond to Marvin Banks, who was convicted of a felony in 2010 for possession of a stolen gun. She set Curtis Banks’ bond at $100,000. However, both Banks brothers were on bond for 2013 drug charges at the time of their arrest, and Polk-Payton revoked those bonds, meaning Curtis Banks is also likely to remain in jail. The judge set $75,000 bonds for both Calloway and Clark.

Marvin Banks also was charged Monday with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and with grand theft for fleeing for a few blocks in a squad car after the shooting and then ditching the vehicle, authorities said.

Smith said she was trying to get lawyers for both of her sons. She said after Curtis’ arrest, he complained to her that officers had kicked him repeatedly, stripped him of his clothes and were holding him in cold cell. She has not talked to Marvin since his arrest. The mother said officers often stop young black men without cause in Hattiesburg, sometimes simply to ask them what they are doing.

“The way police here in Hattiesburg harass young black men, you could tell something was going to happen, but I never thought it would be my sons,” she said.

Police didn’t immediately respond to a telephone call Monday.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday that the officers’ deaths “is made even more tragic by the fact that, on the day they were killed this past Saturday, the country began observing Police Week – a time when we pause to remember and honor the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.”

Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home said Deen will be buried Thursday following a funeral in nearby Sumrall. A funeral home McComb said arrangements for Tate will be released Tuesday.

Deen, 34, is a former “Officer of the Year” in Hattiesburg. He was married and the father of two.

Family spokesman J.T. Taylor said he would want his friend of more than 30 years to know that he was going to take care of his family.

Tate, 25, graduated from the police academy last year.

Tate grew up in Starkville, 150 miles north of Hattiesburg. Strain said he was a 2014 graduate of the law enforcement academy. He grew up wanting to be a policeman.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.