Police await toxicology tests after shootoutPublished 12:17am Tuesday, April 23, 2013
NATCHEZ — Toxicology tests are pending for the Natchez man who died after an inexplicable shootout with law enforcement officers during an investigation of a highway wreck.
Justin Tyler Harrigill, 25, died late Saturday night on Interstate 55 South approximately a mile south of Crystal Springs.
Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Warren Strain said Harrigill was traveling south on I-55 when he apparently lost control of his vehicle.
“We’re not sure exactly what happened, but it looked like he just lost control, and it ran off the side of the road and down into the tree line,” Strain said. “When the trooper who was out doing routine patrol went to assist him, (Harrigill) wouldn’t respond to the officer’s commands.
“(Harrigill) became verbally abusive, and the trooper called for backup.”
Strain said three other troopers, two Crystal Springs police officers, firefighters and a hospital rescue crew responded.
The law enforcement officials then Tasered Harrigill after he continued being combative, Strain said.
“The stun gun had basically zero effect on him,” Strain said. “He pulled the stun gun pins out of his body, and that’s when it went from unusual to very unusual.”
Strain said Harrigill went to his vehicle and pulled a .45 cal. handgun from between the seats of his vehicle and fired one shot at officers before they returned fire.
Strain said toxicology and forensic tests are currently being completed to see if Harrigill may have been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and that they would be expedited.
The officers involved were put on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is complete as part of standard policy and procedure, Strain said.