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Update on Investigation of Fan Incident at Ole Miss-LSU Football Game

Christopher Barnes Courtesy Ole Miss News
Christopher Barnes
Courtesy Ole Miss News

On Nov. 21, 2015 at the Ole Miss-LSU football game, unidentified fans contacted officers at the field level working security for the event complaining of the behavior of a small group of individuals. The officers who responded to the complaint were certified officers from other jurisdictions, working in a temporary capacity for the University of Mississippi Police Department to assist with football security. Officers responded to the area and encountered a group of individuals identified by the complainant as being responsible for throwing items and general unruly behavior. Christopher Barnes was among the group. He was asked to leave and refused to follow those directions. An altercation followed. The university cannot comment on the altercation because it is still under review.

Barnes was removed from the stands and taken to the first aid station staffed by personnel from Baptist Hospital for treatment before being taken to the security station at the stadium. After medical personnel treated, evaluated and released Barnes, he was processed for public drunk, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer. After being processed and photographed, Barnes was turned over to personnel for transport to the Lafayette County Detention Center. The university cannot speak to what might have transpired after Barnes was no longer in UPD custody.

At the time of the arrest, the charge for assault on a police officer was mistakenly omitted from the Arrestee Information Sheet, even though the affidavit asserting the charge was completed by the officer in front of Lafayette County Justice Court personnel as well as other law enforcement officials present. The charge for assault on a police officer was also initially omitted from the detention center records since it was not included on the Arrestee Information Sheet. At some point, the mistake was discovered and the Lafayette County Justice Court records were corrected to include all charges made at the time of the arrest.

Before the football game ended, University Police Department began its investigation into the incident. Due to the seriousness of the matter and to ensure objectivity and transparency, University Police Chief Tim Potts also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigations to independently investigate and assess the case. The university will not have further comment until the FBI completes its assessment and the University Police Department completes its investigation.

As a result of this incident, the University of Mississippi Police Department will conduct an analysis of the practice of hiring temporary/part-time officers and ensure UPD is following recognized best practices. The department will also critique the process within the Vaught-Hemingway security station to ensure that complete and accurate information is recorded for each arrestee, and make any changes or adjustments necessary.

The University Police Department has also released a photograph taken of Christopher Barnes after he received treatment at the first aid station and while he was still at the security station within Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Courtesy UPD Chief Tim Potts & Ole Miss News

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