US & Canada

Two US police officers shot dead in Mississippi

Photos released by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation show, Marvin Banks (left) and his brother Curtis Banks on Saturday, 9 May 2015 Image copyright AP/Hattiesburg Police
Image caption Marvin Banks (left) and his brother Curtis Banks have both been arrested over the killings

Two police officers have been shot dead during a traffic stop in southern Mississippi.

Officers Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25, were killed in Hattiesburg city, said police spokesman Lt Jon Traxler.

Local media say that both men died from their injuries in the hospital on Saturday night.

Four people have been arrested over the killings, ending a manhunt of several hours.

Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said that 29-year-old Marvin Banks and 22-year-old Joanie Calloway had both been charged with two counts of capital murder.

Cornelius Clark, 28, was arrested later and charged with obstruction of justice, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said, according to the Associated Press.

Mr Strain said that Curtis Banks, the younger brother of Marvin Banks, had also been charged with being an accessory to the crimes. It's not clear what warranted those charges.

Mr Strain told The Associated Press that Marvin Banks had tried to escape in a police car after the shooting.

"He didn't get very far, three or four blocks and then he ditched that vehicle."

According to his mother, Mary Smith, Mr Banks has mental problems in addition to a drug addiction. She said that her son smoked "spice" daily and had been hearing voices ever since he was attacked and hit in the head with a pipe several years ago.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mary Smith, the mother of Marvin Banks, blamed the incident on his drug use

She told AP that she has no doubt that Marvin killed the officers and said he looked high in photos after his arrest.

"You could tell something was wrong with him," she said, speaking on the steps of the courthouse, where she had come to find out more information about her sons' arrest. "I hate it for these families that he wasn't in his right mind."

The shootings took place after one of the police officers pulled over a car on Saturday, local reports say.

"All I know right now is that there was a traffic stop and someone started shooting at them and both of the officers were struck," Lt Traxler told AP.

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Media captionThe BBC spoke to former law enforcement officers at Police Week in Washington

The number of shots and who fired them were still under investigation, he added. He did not explain why the car had been pulled over by police.

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 honour the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty".

The incident comes after the killing of a New York police officer last week. Brian Moore, 25, was shot in the head while attempting to question a suspect from his police car.

In December, two officers were shot dead in their car in New York by a man who then committed suicide.

The latest shootings come amid heightened tensions in the US over the police's use of force. Riots erupted in Baltimore earlier this month after the death of a 24-year-old black man in police custody.

Six officers have since been charged over the death of Freddie Gray.

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