TUPELO • The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has released no information on a 14-mile high-speed pursuit nearly two weeks ago that ended with the death of the driver.
The Tupelo and Mantachie police departments, the Lee County Coroner and the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop F spokesman all directed any inquiries to MBI.
“Since a firearm was discharged, MBI would investigate, even if it was not an officer firing his weapon,” said MBI communications director Capt. Johnny Poulos.
Poulos told the Daily Journal that he could not provide more details on the pursuit – including the initial reasons for attempting the traffic stop – and the status of the investigation.
“Once the investigation is complete, everything will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office,” Poulos said. “Any comments will come from the DA’s office.”
Mantachie Police Chief Mark Roberts said his officers attempted to pull over Joshua Eugene Smith, 31, of Fulton, for traffic violations around 1 a.m. Nov. 30. They followed Smith west on Highway 371 toward the city limits.
“He was not yielding to the blue lights and working his way out of town,” Roberts said. “They met a trooper on the road. He turned around and took over the pursuit. Once MHP took over, the speeds got higher.”
Roberts said his officers gave statements to MBI but he has not seen the report, so he doesn’t know what happened after the chase left Mantachie.
According to reports, the chase continued west on Highway 371, then took Interstate 22 to Veterans Boulevard, heading south. Multiple law enforcement shut down a section of East Main Street in Tupelo. The car ran over spike strips and came to rest between Veterans and Highway 45.
“When the car stopped, my son shot himself,” Delorise May Smith said. “They (officers) snatched his girlfriend out of the car. She was standing there with her hands up” while several officers had their guns drawn and pointed at her.
Smith said her son and his girlfriend had been visiting family that evening. The couple had just left her father’s place on Devaughn Road.
“As soon as they pulled out on the highway, (the police) blue lighted him,” Smith said. “I will admit that my son used drugs and they were riding high. He was paranoid schizophrenic and bipolar. He was scared. But they didn’t have to chase him.”
She wondered why the trooper continued a high-speed chase over misdemeanor traffic charges. While she accepts her son’s own actions led to tragic results, Smith does not like the way she and her late son have been treated since.
“They (MBI) haven’t told me a thing,” Smith said. “They finally released the car (Tuesday). They held onto his belongings for 10 days. I had to call (the MBI office in) Jackson to get that to happen.
“Apparently they’ve been trying to hack into his cell phone. The lieutenant said they didn’t have my son’s phone, and in the next breath asked if I knew what his password was.
“I’ve already cremated my son. If they are looking for the names of drug dealers, that’s on them. Even if I knew the password, I wouldn’t tell them. They don’t need to be up in his private life.”
She said when she got her son’s cell phone back Wednesday, it was broken. The girlfriend, who was not charged, still does not have her cell phone.
While Smith still does not have a death certificate, she noted that her son’s last act of kindness was donating his organs.