Indictments dropped for Natchez police officer
NATCHEZ — Grand jury indictments against a Natchez police officer for his reported involvement in a murder his son allegedly committed have been dropped.
Concordia Parish District Attorney Brad Burget said indictments against Vince Bates, 43, for accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, a felony, and careless operation of a vehicle, a misdemeanor, were dismissed Wednesday.
Bates was indicted in November for reportedly interfering with Concordia Parish law enforcement officers trying to arrest his son Vincent Doston just a few hours after Doston reportedly shot and killed Derec “Beedy” Dobbins, 24, Aug. 28 on Morris Lee Lane in Vidalia.
Dotson, 20, was indicted the same day as his father for second-degree murder.
Bates was on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the case. Police Chief Danny White said Friday Bates will return to work Monday.
Following the dismissal of the indictments, the district attorney’s office filed bills of information to charge Bates with resisting an officer and careless operation of a vehicle, both misdemeanors.
A bill of information does not come from the grand jury and allows the defense attorney to request lesser charges or file a motion to quash if he or she believes the facts of the case do not support the charges.
Bates is not formally charged until he is arraigned in court, which is scheduled for April 16.
Bates’ attorney, Ronnie McMillin, said he has a motion to quash pending before the court.
Because the charges Bates is now facing are lesser misdemeanor charges, White said he will make a determination about Bates’ future at the department after further court proceedings.
“As of right now, he is a full-time patrolman,” White said, “We suspended him on the felony charge and that charge is not against him anymore.”
Burget said after further review of the case, he did not feel the allegations against Bates fit the definition of accessory after the fact to murder.
Burget said he still believes Bates committed a crime, but added that will be left up to the court.
Bates and McMillin contend the officer’s innocence.
Bates says he was helping authorities arrest his son, not hindering them.
According to court documents from the previous indictments, Bates claims he was called by Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis for help locating his son to be arrested the day of the murder. Bates did not know Dotson’s whereabouts, but reportedly told Lewis he would look for Dotson and have Dotson turn himself in.
Phone records will show that Lewis called Bates, McMillin said, and will also show Bates contacted several family members over the course of the search to locate Dotson, with whom McMillin said Bates never talked to directly.
Another son of Bates’ who was in the car with Bates can also testify to Bates’ involvement in helping locate Dotson, McMillin said.
McMillin said when Concordia Parish sheriff’s deputies caught up with Dotson, the vehicle he was in was being shepherded by Bates to the Vidalia Police Department. Bates was driving his personal vehicle, not a Natchez police car.
Bates kept his distance from Dotson, McMillin said, because he had been informed by family members that Dotson was afraid of his father’s reaction to his involvement with a murder.
McMillin said Bates followed Dotson at a distance in his car to ensure Dotson turned himself in but as not to spook him into fleeing.
After Bates was able to get a message to Dotson’s sister, who was driving the car Dotson was in to pull over, McMillin said, Dotson’s sister pulled the car over and deputies were able to arrest Dotson.
McMillin said a deputy alleges that Bates followed the deputy too closely, a claim Bates denies.
Bates is scheduled to appear in court next on April 16.