Poplarville Board of Aldermen retracts wrongdoing from minutes

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a motion to rescind part of the minutes from a meeting held on Sept. 12 that stated Officer Bruce Eades acted on his own accord when he prematurely shut down a concert held at the County Fair Grounds on Aug. 18.

The rescinded part of the minutes read, “After investigations by the Chief of Police and the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the Board has determined that Officer Bruce Eades’ statements about ending the event at 1:00 a.m. were made independently and without any orders or direction by Police Chief Butch Raby.  The Chief and the Board will take appropriate disciplinary action against Officer Eades for his actions.”

The remainder of that entry into the minutes was not changed, said Mayor Rossie Creel.

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That part of the entry reads, “The Board of Aldermen is committed to being proactive to improve community relations in our City.  The Board is creating a “Community Relations” subcommittee comprised of Alderman Kevin Tillman and Alderman Shirley Wiltshire.  They will discuss ideas and plans for improving community relations in our City and present those ideas and plans to the Board.”

The original motion to include the statement that Eades acted without direction from the police chief, Board, or Mayor was made after complaints were lodged to the Board that the officer forced organizers of the concert to prematurely close the event.

City Attorney Nick Thompson said the change to the minutes was made because the Board decided that further investigation was needed to make further findings concerning the officer’s actions that night.

“…so it wasn’t a factual finding hanging out there if it was found to be incorrect,” Thompson said.

The attorney said the rest of the statement was maintained in the minutes to reflect the Board’s decision to improve community relations.

He said that the Board is still looking for a third party investigator to look into the incident that night.

Previous coverage states that on the night of Aug. 18, several law enforcement officers were at the event, even though organizers of the concert hired their own security and rented the venue from the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors.

The organizers state that Eades them aside, and told them to close the event early.

Darrick Williams, co-owner of Flight 411, the business that booked the event, said that after Eades told him to close the event, he requested 15 more minutes, which was granted.

Danica Hart, co-owner of Flight 411, said Williams requested the extra time because the headliner of the show had not taken the stage yet, and Hart and Williams wanted to give the act a chance to perform.

When contacted by the Item for comment about the change to the Board’s minutes, both Hart and Williams said they were unaware the change had been made.

“Somebody’s hiding something,” Williams said. “Who are they protecting? Personally, I don’t think Bruce acted on his own.”

Both Williams and Hart feel that someone directed Eades to prematurely close the event.

“Bruce said he was under direct orders to shut it down,” Hart said.

Before hearing of the change to the minutes, Williams said he intended to move forward with the business and that he was working with the city to plan future events. After hearing of the change, he said he is now considering hiring an attorney.

“I guess we’re back at ground zero,” Williams said.