TBR-Leighton Bradford, Editor-in-Chief
On Saturday, May 4th, 2013, James Irby disappeared from the face of the earth! It was by chance I contacted the Baltimore, MD, NAACP HQ office, offering my services. I spoke with an old friend and she referred me to Charles Hampton, Vice-President, legal redress committee, NAACP MS State Conference. Mr. Hampton’s tenacity and professionalism stood out immediately! Mr. Hampton cut right to the chase when spoken to,” James Irby had minor brushes with the law, I want to get his record?” “Walls, MS police department gave conflicting statements of James Irby’s location during the traffic stop,” said Mr. Hampton. Vice-President Hampton suggested an apparent cover up, by the Walls, MS police department. He asked me to help him continue with a fact-finding mission. Mr. Hampton mentioned the FBI’s involvement with the case. Agent Walter Henry, FBI civil rights division, would meet with Mr. Hampton in the near future.
On 6-3-13, I received a call from Mr. Hampton that the James Irby case was closed, and the Irby family was satisfied with FBI agent Henry’s findings.
On 6-10-13, TBR contacted the mayor’s office, speaking with a Kathy Gordon, Town Clerk, City of Walls. “I heard he (Chief Boisseau) was going to give a press conference as well; I will forward your contact information.” “I will be quite honest, that’s all I know.” She never called back, so I contacted the departments Assistant Chief Harris, on 6-11-13, Assistant Chief Harris made the following comments:
TBR asked Assistant Chief Harris, "Is Mr. Irby still missing?“ "James Irby is still missing?" "Where did officer Zack Jenkins pull Mr. Irby over at"? “Highway 61 southbound-south of church road/near Brentwood manufacturing facility.” “Officer Zack Jenkins said he ran across north bound traffic fleeing incident.” “Got cadaver dogs (2), they followed trail towards Highway 61 southbound were the trail ended.” “I think someone probably picked him up?” “I will provide you with police report."
On 6-17-13, I met with Assistant Chief Harris at the Walls, MS police department office. He had a difficult time explaining where his officer pulled Mr. Irby over. I explained the concerns the NAACP had with the excessive number of African-Americans/Memphians being pulled over. After retrieving the police report I left.
The intrigue started to build. Why would an individual admit to driving issues, light up a cigarette, get on the cell phone with a family member, and then run into a southern marsh? A later conversation with Mr. Hampton revealed the continued impounding of the Irby’s family vehicle (1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass, green in color, MS tag). A number of people following the case found it peculiar officer Zack Jenkins was placed on leave, right after the Irby incident. On 6-8-13 I was pulled over by a Desoto county sheriffs deputy Coleman, after we dispensed with the pleasantries, and I was told I drove to close to a routine traffic stop, he asked me about the James Irby matter. He was told it was an ongoing investigation. I realized MS law enforcement new I was on the map. The Officer who pulled me over let me go. Yeah interesting? I went out the next day just to get a reference as to the topography of the presumed location of the traffic stop. Imagine acres of farmland, an adjacent marsh in the near distance, and Brentwood manufacturing plant off to the side. Where did Mr. Irby end up or go? Anyone else would have halted an investigation after the Irby family said they were satisfied. Mr. Hampton was not easily swayed. FBI agent Henry, reviewed videotape of Officer Jenkins stopping James Irby, later surmising no apparent wrongdoing. Several people presented a wide array of unanswered questions. And then a bombshell was revealed to TBR on 7-19-13, Walls, MS police Chief Gary Boisseau, was let go! VP Hampton hinted around or suggest a misappropriation of approximately $5300, from the aforementioned police department! “I am in contact with a man from Florida who claims Walls, MS police stole $300.00 from him when pulled over.” I know my readers want to know if the department is shaking people down during traffic stops. I will continue to research this very issue.
On 7-24-13 at 1630 I received a returned call from the interim chief.
I asked the following questions: (1) Are you now the chief of police? Yes I am the interim chief. (2) Why was the past chief let go? The mayor called a special session removing Chief Gary Boisseau. He handed me his keys as he left the building.
Desoto County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Lent Rice, informed TBR the department did assist with a department helicopter and hydro-tek (amphibious vehicle) in the search for Mr. James Irby. “Mr. Irby is still missing” said Officer Lent Rice. Sheriff Rasco said his department will help authorities with any of the department’s available resources. The NAACP State Conference president and vice-president are planning a detailed news conference at a later date. There may have been some vandalism to Mr. James Irby vehicle as well? TBR will inform its readers, when the NAACP convenes a news conference.