TATE COUNTY, Miss. — Deputies may not have been on the invite list to the party on Hammond Hill outside of Senatobia, Mississippi. But they say they certainly had a reason to show up.
The department has faced scrutiny since a video circulated showing two deputies questioning a woman and son in their home and demanding the son turn off his camera. Sheriff Brad Lance admitted deputies failed in some areas, but said there is more to the story than what’s in that video.
“I just want folks to know the whole story,” Lance said.
Deputies pulled up to talk with the person who owned the home after the Halloween party ended because a teenager told them she was drinking there and someone raped her during the party.
“You have to inform the owner of the property your exact reason for being there,” Sheriff Lance said.
He says the deputies dropped the ball on that one and should have just pulled Carla Echols aside and told her what was going on.
“They should have just been straight up and said this is why we are here, and we need to to talk to you about this.”
Instead, the two deputies raised their voices and demanded things without explaining why they were there. When the owner even asked them to step outside, they stood still.
“We made mistakes. But the perception that we run roughshod over people and their rights is not true,” Sheriff Lance said.
He says maybe the deputies were trying to protect the victim by limiting the information they gave. But they were still out of line.
“We are going to use this as a means to train,” he said. “To show them you can’t do this.”
In a Facebook post, Lance also said that the allegation that deputies entered the home unannounced was “absolutely false.”
“From the body cam footage, you can clearly see and hear the deputy knock on the partially open door and you can hear someone inside say come in,” Lance wrote.
Sheriff Lance showed WREG body camera footage shot before Dre Crump even pulled out his cell phone.
This video keeps rolling even after the deputy demanded that he stop, because the sheriff says Tate County has nothing to hide.
“You can’t just trounce, jump and stump on people’s rights.”
Sheriff Lance says he’s worked too hard to have a single video destroy years of work building trust in the community.
“If the community doesn’t trust law enforcement we become ineffective.”
He says he’ll do what it takes to restore what’s lost.
Lance thinks if things were handles differently from the start then it’s possible there would have been no reason for Crump to pull out his phone.
He says he’s still investigating and can’t speak on disciplinary actions that will be taken against the deputies involved.