State Law: Incident reports are public records
By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Corinth Today this week filed public records requests with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, including the highway patrol, and the Tippah County Sheriff’s Office to obtain a possible incident report in regard to the Sept. 30 fatal shooting of an off-duty state trooper in Big Hatchie Bottom.
Incident reports are public records, according to the Mississippi Public Records Act, which says, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to exempt from public disclosure a law enforcement incident report. An incident report shall be a public record.”
The statute specifically defines an “incident report” as a “narrative description, if such narrative description exists and if such narrative description does not contain investigative information, of an alleged offense, and at a minimum shall include the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date, and location of the alleged offense, and the property involved, to the extent this information is known.”
Off-duty MHP Trooper Josh Smith, 32, was fatally shot in Tippah County’s Big Hatchie Bottom last month. Rienzi resident Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, has been charged with capital murder in the death of Smith and attempted murder for the non-fatal shooting of another person.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the highway patrol.
A Tippah County Circuit Court affidavit charges that Smith was acting in an “official capacity” when Eaton allegedly shot him. Furthermore, the affidavit alleges that Eaton “knew” Smith was “acting in an official capacity as a Mississippi State trooper.”
Tippah County District Attorney Ben Creekmore said he cannot elaborate on the case.
“I do not feel that I am permitted by law to elaborate on specific facts,” Creekmore said in a statement to Corinth Today on Wednesday. “It is my understanding the matter is still under investigation. At the appropriate time a grand jury will evaluate the case, like any other case, and determine whether an indictment is proper to issue as charged.”
The affidavit alleging that Smith was acting in his official was signed by Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Agent Paul Moore.
Eaton’s wife, Lori Eaton, declined comment on the allegation that her husband shot Smith knowing that Smith was acting in an official law enforcement capacity at the time.
Smith, who was an Alcorn County resident, had been a trooper since 2007 and is remembered by many as a family man, dedicated officer and a good person who loved helping others. Law enforcement from around the state, as well as Gov. Phil Bryant, attended Smith’s memorial service in Corinth.