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Daryl Burney has given me a new nickname – Flash. The origin was a quick shift in the courtroom last week after a scuffle broke out. You may have read the story in our previous edition, the judge revoked a 12-year suspended sentence for Keith Cook after giving him multiple opportunities to get back on track during the last year.
As the judge explained his decision, it was evident that this defendant was not happy. His displeasure started with a string of profanity that got louder and louder, and all of the law enforcement officers in the courtroom headed toward him. The fight broke out in the middle of the courtroom – inches from where I was seated. I decided to give the six officers a little space to subdue him and Burney said I move pretty fast.
Thankfully Sheriff Jerimaine Gooch had plenty of deputies in the courtroom. A Panola County deputy also joined the action with four Yalobusha deputies and Water Valley Police officer Austin Tallent. Cook is a big fellow and it took the six officers almost a minute to restrain him even though he was wearing leg shackles and handcuffs. Keep in mind the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) description describes Cook as having a “large” build at 6’4” and 200 pounds.
The officers literally carried Cook out of the courtroom head first and took him back to the Yalobusha County Detention Center. He was transported to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County a few days later and will be gone for a while. The judge noted that he was sentenced as a habitual offender, and will serve the remainder of his sentence without an opportunity for probation or early release.
I asked Burney how many times he remembers a fight in court during his tenure and he said they are few and far between.
Cook will likely appear again before the same judge on a new charge from his short time in the Yalobusha County Detention Center. Cook was charged for having contraband in the jail after allegedly breaking a wooden broomstick into several pieces and sharpening the ends on the concrete floor.
I hope that he can get some help during his incarceration, Cook told the judge that he struggles with anger management. Having served with prison ministry for the last eight years in Parchman, I know MDOC offers a lot of opportunities for offenders to get their lives back on track. Governor Tate Reeves appointed Burl Cain to serve as Commissioner of MDOC in 2020, and Cain has made huge strides in bringing reform to the state’s prisons. Cain has worked tirelessly to reduce gang activity in the prisons. He is also on a mission to expand inmate churches inside the prison walls as inmate pastors lead congregations.
Now on a less serious “arrest” story, the Water Valley Police Department ended a month-long fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with a final arrest on October 31 when Chief Jason Mangrum nabbed the paperman. The chief reported 61 “suspects” were arrested on bogus charges during the October fundraiser and almost $5,000 was raised. Each person arrested could make a donation to St. Jude and nominate the next suspect for the police to go after. The chief also noted that his department were unable to catch up with a few of the people nominated for the fundraiser.
“We apologize if we didn’t get everybody, our officers only worked on this fundraiser when available,” he explained.
Mangrum reported the overwhelming support for this fundraiser was well beyond what his department envisioned when they came up with the idea.
“I want to personally thank everyone who helped us support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and allowed us to have a little fun in the process,” the chief added.
Mangrum reported that he will deliver the checks and cash to the hospital on November 16.