By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel
RIPLEY – A Tippah County Grand Jury has ruled that the January fatal shooting of a suspect in a Tippah armed robbery – who was also wanted for robbery in three other states and had stated he would not return to prison – was justified.
Jeffrey Everly of Kentucky was shot at least six times by officers, who pursued him several hours earlier to a wooded area in Dumas in a chase that topped 100 mph.
The pursuit ended only after Everly wrecked a truck stolen from the victim several hours after the Thursday, Dec. 30 robbery.
No gun was ever found on Everly, who was also wanted in connection with recent robberies in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Tippah deputy Brent Garner was believed to have been accidentally shot during the confrontation by Ripley police officer Eric Bibb, according to Ashland attorney Tony Farese. The attorney is representing Bibb, and Ripley police officer Chris Hodges and deputy Tommy Mason, who were all involved in the case.
Garner – who is a full-time Ripley officer but was serving as a part time Tippah deputy at the time of the shooting — is now recovering at home. “It’s a terrible thing that deputy Garner was shot, but he was doing his sworn duty to protect and to serve,” Farese said this week.
The Grand Jury heard the officers’ sworn testimony about the events that night, and considered the findings of a 149-page Mississippi Bureau of Investigation report on the matter,
“The officers were protecting and serving the community. They did nothing wrong. They acted according to policy. Their conduct was absolutely correct under the circumstances.
“Mr. Everly was a criminal on a crime spree. He was a wild card, and he set all these events into action,” Farese said.
Farese termed the fatal shooting “suicide by cop.”