A Grenada County man was killed in an officer-involved shooting Saturday afternoon following an intense 90-minute standoff in the Boat Landing community west of Water Valley. Sheriff Lance Humphreys reported Michael Taylor, age 40, was killed after firing multiple rounds in the air and then pointing his gun at law enforcement officers, who were pleading with him to surrender.
The ordeal started Saturday afternoon at 3:30 with a 911 call reporting a man was outside a residence shooting at a woman. The sheriff said the dispatcher could hear shots fired during the 911 call. A deputy and Oakland police officer were first on the scene at Patricia Drive, and were soon joined by the sheriff, Chief Deputy Jerry Ferguson and other deputies and two officers with the Water Valley Police Department.
Humphreys reported the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and the District Attorney’s office are handling the investigation.
District Attorney John Champion told the Herald that he responded to the scene.
“Whenever we have an officer-involved shooting, or any homicide, I like to make the scene,” Champion explained. “When I review the statements for people who were there, I can compare that with what I have seen.”
Champion was interviewing officers involved in the shooting Tuesday morning. He added that it will take around a week before making a decision about the investigation, explaining that he is also waiting for the report from the MBI.
“I don’t anticipate there being any issues. They gave him every opportunity to put the gun down,” Champion added. “Obviously we will never know what set Mr. Taylor off. We know what his actions were prior to the officers getting there and we know what his actions were while the officers were there,” the DA added.
“It is tough for the officers and tough for the family too,” Champion added.
Yalobusha County Coroner Ronnie Stark reported that an autopsy will be performed on Taylor’s body Wednesday in Jackson.
The Tragic Details
Humphreys shared details of the incident.
“A lot of people don’t understand what law enforcement officers encounter, this was so tragic both for Taylor’s family and the guys on the scene,” the sheriff explained. “We did everything we could to resolve this. Mr. Taylor was a veteran and had served two combat tours. We wanted to help him and it was gut-wrenching it ended this way.”
Humphreys said when officers first arrived, there were three children inside the residence with Taylor. They were able to convince him to release the children, who were transported away from the scene.
The sheriff said the standoff was intense, as Talyor would be calm and then become extremely agitated as officers pleaded with him to put down his weapons and surrender.
“After it was over, we found almost 200 rounds in his pockets,” Humphreys said.
“I knew him, I tried to talk to him. Others on the scene knew him too and tried to tell him we would get him help,” Humphreys said.
But the sheriff said the situation turned dangerous early in the negotiations.
“At one point he had his gun pointed at me and I had mine pointed at him,” Humphreys explained. “I stopped talking and backed off from him to give him time to cool down,” the sheriff added.
Ferguson also tried to calm Taylor.
“I told him that I heard he was a veteran and so was I,” Ferguson said. Taylor responded that he served two tours, one in 2003 in Iraq and another in 2009.
Ferguson then told Taylor he had also served in Iraq in 2003 at Camp Warhorse.
“I really thought he was going to come out and we were going to resolve this situation,” Ferguson told the Herald. “I told him I wanted to help him get help.”
The chief deputy said the conversation waned after Taylor explained he was going to finish watching Gunsmoke on television.
“At that point we could hear him moving around in the trailer, I thought he was barricading himself,” the sheriff added.
After about a 15-minute wait, Ferguson said the negotiations resumed and he offered to give the suspect his cell phone so they could talk, an offer that was refused.
In a recording, the final seconds of the standoff can be heard as officers yelled, “don’t do it, don’t do it,” before shots erupted.
According to the multiple officers, Taylor came out of the mobile home with his gun pointed at his head before shooting up in the air. After taking cover, Ferguson said when he popped back up Taylor had his gun pointed at him, forcing the chief deputy and another officer to fire.
Humphreys said they immediately called for a medevac helicopter. An ambulance was also staged nearby, but Taylor was deceased.
Humphreys said law enforcement remained on the scene until after midnight as the crime lab processed evidence at the scene. The sheriff also reported a SWAT team and crisis negotiators from Oxford Police Department were preparing to respond before it tragically ended.
“His family said he was suffering with PTSD. He had been drinking alcohol,” the sheriff said. “He just would not let us help him. We ask for continued prayers for all of these departments, especially the officers who had to respond with deadly force to make sure they went home to their families that night. We urge everyone to remember Mr. Taylor’s family in prayer.”