Family of teen fatally shot by Gulfport officer demands release of bodycam footage

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 4:19 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WVUE) - The family of Jaheim McMillan marked his sixteenth birthday on Wednesday (Feb. 1) by demanding transparency four months after he was fatally shot by police in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Family and friends gathered at the Courthouse Road Pier to celebrate McMillan’s life with a barbecue and a vigil.

McMillan was killed in front of a Family Dollar on Oct. 10, 2022. The front of the store has now become a makeshift memorial, covered with signs calling for justice for Jaheim, stuffed animals, and flowers.

15-year-old critically wounded in officer-involved shooting at Gulfport Family Dollars
15-year-old critically wounded in officer-involved shooting at Gulfport Family Dollars

The Gulfport Police Department says officers were called out to reports of a group of juveniles, all under the age of 18, inside a car waving guns at passing drivers.

The car was stopped by an officer at the Family Dollar on the corner of 8th Avenue and Pass Road and police say all but two occupants of the vehicle bailed out. McMillan, who police say was armed with a gun, was fatally shot by an officer in front of the store.

Bodycam video of the incident has not been released. The family says they don’t even know the name of the officer who killed their son.

Jaheim McMillan, 15
Jaheim McMillan, 15(Katrina Mateen)

“The answers are right there,” activist Marquell Bridges said. “If it happened like they said, we’d have already seen [the video] so everybody could shut up and go home.”

Bridges says McMillan’s mother has seen a short, edited clip, but they are calling for officials to release the full body cam footage. He added even that short clip was disturbing, showing McMillan being shot in the back of the head.

RELATED: 15-year-old fatally wounded in officer-involved shooting at Gulfport Family Dollar

Advocates said previously in front of Gulfport Police headquarters that they have video from a nearby business showing McMillan with his hands up, complying with the commands of officers on the scene. They say the video shows an officer jumping out of his car, running, and shooting at the teen.

That description of the moments leading to the deadly shooting is in direct contrast with the scenario police have described.

“One of the officers observed McMillan, who was armed. The officer gave orders to McMillan to stop and drop his weapon. McMillan did not comply,” Gulfport Police Chief Adam Cooper told reporters at a news conference the day after the shooting. “McMillan turned his body and weapon toward the officer. The officer fired at McMillan.”

This group says they're peacefully protesting body cam footage and surveillance video from the...
This group says they're peacefully protesting body cam footage and surveillance video from the Family Dollar store to be released.

The family is confident once the video is released by investigators it will disprove officers’ accounts of what happened that day.

Advocates say they want the officer arrested and charged with murder, and they want to see Chief Cooper terminated for his handling of this situation.

It’s a tale of two cities, comparing McMillan’s investigation to how swiftly Memphis authorities moved to identify, fire, and charge five officers for the murder of Tyre Nichols.

Nichols was pulled over and beaten by Memphis police officers on Jan. 7 and died three days later. Five officers were fired in connection to his death on Jan. 20. The Nichols family watched body camera footage in its entirety on Jan. 23. The five fired officers were arrested and charged with second-degree murder on Jan. 25.

Every day that passes, McMillan’s family and friends say they grow more anxious, waiting and praying for justice.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says it has finished its investigation and it’s now up to the Attorney General’s office to determine if the case will be presented to a grand jury.

The Attorney General’s office declined to comment, citing an open investigation.

Family and friends of Jaheim McMillian gathered at the Lyman Community Center in Gulfport Wednesday to remember the teen.

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