A grand jury has declined to indict a Gulfport police officer who fatally shot 15-year-old Jaheim McMillan last October, a Mississippi Department of Public Safety official told the Mississippi Free Press today. He also shared three videos of the shooting with this outlet along with a 106-page redacted Mississippi Bureau of Investigation report.
“The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (‘MBI’) has completed its investigation into an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Gulfport, Mississippi, on October 6, 2022, involving Jaheim McMillan,” Mississippi Department of Public Safety Staff Officer Robert Wentworth said in a statement to the Mississippi Free Press this afternoon. “The matter was presented to a grand jury, which declined to issue any indictments as a result of the incident.”
The report names the officer who shot McMillan as Kenneth Nassar. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation investigates all officer-involved shootings in the state.
One of the videos is four minutes of dashcam footage from a responding officer and shows McMillan and another young person fleeing a vehicle parked in front of a Family Dollar after police officers pulled up behind them. About five seconds after they exit the car and run in opposite directions, an officer with a gun drawn walks to the right side of the building as McMillan is running away and fires eight successive shots at him, while another chases his companion to the left.
The agency edited the video to freeze it in several spots to reveal that McMillan was holding something that looked like a gun before Nassar shot him. In October, Gulfport Police Chief Adam Cooper claimed that “McMillan turned both his body and his weapon toward the officer” before the officer shot at him, but the videos appear to show McMillan running away from the officers when he is shot. Community activists and witnesses also claimed last October that McMillan had his hands up when he was shot; the video does not appear to show that, either, but another person who was in the car with him does exit with their hands up moments after the shooting.
In another video, from Nassar’s body camera, the officer can be heard shouting, “Stop, drop it,” immediately before firing. It shows the officer putting handcuffs on McMillan as the immobile 15-year-old bleeds on the sidewalk. Nassar later told an investigator that it is not unusual to handcuff someone who is injured, the MBI report said. The third video, which lasts one hour and 30 minutes, is dashcam footage from the vehicle of yet another officer who arrived at the scene.
“Pursuant to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s transparency policy, dash and body camera footage related to the incident, as well as MBI’s comprehensive investigative report, have been authorized for release in response to public records requests,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said in an email that Wentworth sent to the Mississippi Free Press today. “MBI is committed to performing a thorough investigation of all officer-involved critical incidents. Once these inquiries are completed, release of our reports and pertinent camera footage help maintain transparency and accountability.”
The Office of the Mississippi Attorney General released a statement today on the grand jury decision.
“The Office of the Attorney General completed its review into the October 6, 2022, incident involving an officer-involved shooting in Harrison County and presented it to the Harrison County grand jury earlier this month,” her office said. “The grand jury today reported that it found no criminal conduct on behalf of the officer involved.”
“As such, no further criminal action will be taken by this Office in this matter,” the release said. “Pursuant to Section 45-1-6 of the Mississippi Code, review by the Office of the Attorney General and the subsequent presentation to the Harrison County grand jury followed an investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.”
In the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation report, one of the teenagers in the vehicle with McMillan told Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Officer James Westbrook that he “believed McMillan exited the Kia Soul with a black-colored Taurus pistol in his right hand,” the official wrote based on an Oct. 6 interview.
The teenager “explained that upon exiting the Kia Soul, MCMILLAN ran to the left and then turned and ran to the right” and that “MCMILLAN was only running with the handgun he was holding and that MCMILLAN did not raise or point the gun toward anyone,” the report said.
He “watched them shoot Jaheim a few times” and believed he heard “six gunshots,” the report said, noting that “one of the officers announced ‘stop running’ before MCMILLAN turned to run to the right, after which he “heard the gunshots.”
Another teenager, also in the vehicle, said he did not believe McMillan was “going to shoot toward the officer” but that “he (MCMILLAN) did run with a gun,” the report said.