12 News Investigates: Hattiesburg police face scrutiny after traffic stop

12 News Investigates

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Loren Smith said she’s furious about the way her brother was treated by Hattiesburg police when he seemed to have a medical episode during a traffic stop.

According to Smith, her brother, Lester, took their parents’ car from Pike County, and his dad filed a police report. The filing of the report led to a traffic stop in Hattiesburg.

A 14 minute video captured and shared on Facebook thousands of times was shocking to Smith.

“The things that we – I saw in that video, I feel that wasn’t the best way to handle things, and I just feel disappointed,” she stated.

The beginning of the video appeared to show Lester complying with officers. Lea Campbell, a witness, said things took a turn when a second officer arrived, and Lester was put in the back of the officer’s patrol car.

“The door was open, but I could see the man’s feet dangling between the door. And his feet began to convulse, and he began to shake in a really alarming way,” said Campbell.

Campbell is a nurse and said the officers didn’t seem to take the situation seriously.

“I was really concerned at the time because as a medical professional I couldn’t see if his chest was rising and falling, and at no time did I see them taking a pulse. They were just kind of standing around really casual talking to each other.”

Morris Mock also witnessed the incident. He said he questions the lack of urgency.

“The ambulance was a bit late,” Mock stated. “You have four police officers show up before an ambulance?”

He said Hattiesburg police showed a lack of empathy for Lester and need to reevaluate protocol.

The department released the following statement on social media:

Smith said she wants to see the body camera video of the incident, and she wants to know if her brother is okay.

“I’m just trying to find him, and I need to know where he’s at. I need to find him, and I need to know where he’s at. Does he have internal bleeding? Did he hit his head? Is he okay?”

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