CLARKSDALE, Mississippi (AP) — A man believed to have shot a northwest Mississippi police officer point-blank in the face and a man believed to have joined him in an earlier robbery were being questioned Sunday by police, Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said.
Luckett says the first man’s father brought him to the police station Sunday afternoon. Officers with a search warrant found “telling evidence” at the family’s home earlier Sunday, he said.
The officer, Cpl. Derrick Couch, was in critical condition at the area’s top trauma center, Regional One Health in Memphis, nursing supervisor Vivian Crawford said Sunday.
Couch is on a ventilator, has lost one eye, and the bullet remains lodged in his brain, Luckett said.
He said the shooting occurred about four blocks from a convenience store that two men in masks had just robbed Saturday night. The store and City Hall are at opposite ends of the same block, facing different directions, Luckett said.
He said video from a nearby law office shows Crouch getting out of his car, apparently to question the man.
“I’ve seen the video. It’s harrowing,” he said. “As soon as the officer approached him, he just swung around and, bam!”
Before the shooting itself, the mayor said, the video shows Couch’s patrol car approaching two men, one of whom runs.
“I’m not sure if Officer Crouch saw him run or not,” Luckett said. “Then you see the officer’s lights turn and illuminate the second guy, who’s walking. He walks with a noticeable limp, which is telling” because a video of a robbery last month at the same store, the Corner Grocery, shows a man with a limp.
Couch and both suspects are African-American, he said.
He said Couch is a veteran officer in his mid-30s, and worked for the Tunica County Sheriff’s Office before coming to Clarksdale, where he was a narcotics officer until recently. He is married and has one or two children; other relatives live in Southaven, the mayor said.
“This is not a homicide yet. It would be our first this year if it turns into one,” he said. “I can’t remember an officer in Clarksdale shot by a suspect.”