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4 Charged In Fatal Shooting Of Hattiesburg, Miss., Police Officers


On the same day two slain police officers were remembered in Hattiesburg, Miss., four suspects held in their deaths appeared before a judge. The memorial service for Benjamin Dean and Liquori Tate was standing-room only. They were killed Saturday night after what began as a routine traffic stop. Hattiesburg Police Chief Frazier Bolton spoke at today's service at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.


FRAZIER BOLTON: They taught us a lesson of how to be a hero. We are family, and your pain is felt by all of us.

CORNISH: Ellen Ciurczak was at the service. She's a reporter at The Hattiesburg American and joins us on the line now. Hi there, Ellen.


CORNISH: To begin, Officer Benjamin Dean made the traffic stop Saturday evening, and there are reports that he called for backup, which is when Officer Liquori Tate showed up. Can you tell us what happened after that?

CIURCZAK: Well, that's the big mystery. Nobody really knows, and the Hattiesburg Police Department is not investigating this. As far as we can tell, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has taken over, and we believe that is so the case will not be compromised. All we know for sure is that after Liquori Tate arrived on scene, they were both shot and killed, and there were two people at least in the car, Marvin Banks, 29, who's been charged with two counts of capital murder, and Joanie Calloway, who today had her charges reduced to two counts of accessory to murder.

CORNISH: What more can you tell us about these two officers? I gather Officer Tate was young, 25 years old, and had just started his career as a police officer.

CIURCZAK: Right. He had only been in the police force for about a year. They talked about him at the memorial service today. He apparently wanted so badly to be a police officer that the officer who looked over him during his police training said he was the only police officer he ever met who did not complain about being at the police training academy. And he also mentioned that once he became a police officer that Tate loved to run his siren. Every time he got called to a scene he would run his siren. And finally, this officer asked him why he did that, and he said, because it makes me feel good.

CORNISH: And Benjamin Dean, he was married, two children, and a decorated officer, correct?

CIURCZAK: He was officer of the year in 2012, and we didn't know why he was named officer of the year until today. We were told that he rescued an entire family from a burning house, and when he arrived on the scene, the family was sound asleep in their beds. And he went in and got them all.

CORNISH: Ellen Ciurczak, tell us more about the suspects. You mentioned two earlier, but what happened in the court today?

CIURCZAK: Well, I wasn't at the court, but I believe that they were there for their first appearance. These suspects - two of them are brothers, Marvin Banks, 29, and Curtis Banks, his 26-year-old brother. And, as I said, Marvin Banks has been charged with two counts of capital murder, and Joanie Calloway was the driver, we believe. And that's why we think her charges were reduced - because there was only one gun. Banks - Curtis Banks was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder. And then on Sunday, there was another arrest of Cornelius Clark, 28, charged with obstruction of justice.

CORNISH: You were at the service today for the officers. What was the community response to these two deaths?

CIURCZAK: Well, I mean, people took off from work to go to this service. And there were so many law enforcement personnel there. I couldn't believe it. And I happened to come across Tate's great aunt, Shirlene Ross (ph). And I asked her how she was doing, and she said kind of fair, not that great. But she said that it made her feel a little bit better to see all these people turning out for the service.

CORNISH: Ellen Ciurczak, thank you so much for speaking with us.

CIURCZAK: Thank you.

CORNISH: That's Ellen Ciurczak of The Hattiesburg American on the two police officers who were killed over the weekend in Hattiesburg, Miss. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.