Sheriff responds to social media post, video

Published 12:12 am Thursday, January 31, 2019


NATCHEZ — In recent days, some Natchez residents have been circulating a video on social media that shows Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducting a search on a house.

The video, time-stamped Sept. 22, 2018, had been viewed 3,640 times as of late Wednesday afternoon.

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The social media posts question the legality of the search, stating deputies did not have a search warrant, opened a door to the house and a second door in the backyard and questioning the legality of a deputy, as seen in the video, changing the angle of the camera, which is owned by the house owner.

One of the people who posted the video on social media asked what would happen to him if he went into the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and put his hands on their cameras.

Sheriff Travis Patten saw some of the postings and issued a statement Wednesday afternoon answering questions raised by the posters and commenters.

Patten said the search was part of a joint operation with Natchez Police Department, Mississippi Department of Corrections and the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force conducting probation checks as part of an investigation into leads on recent shootings.

In such probation checks, Patten said, search warrants are not required because the subjects are under supervision of MDOC as long as the probation officer is present as was the case in that search.

“Michael Thomas (Traedoe) was on probation with Mississippi Department of Corrections … after being convicted of aggravated assault in February 2018 and sentenced to five years,” Patten said. “MDOC probation officers told us that Thomas uses his mom’s address on Jones Road but stays at his grandmother’s house on Brightwood.”

Patten said the Brightwood house, which is in the video, had been the scene of a shooting nights before the search and had several bullet holes on exterior walls. “Thomas also had an outstanding controlled substance warrant with the Natchez Police Department,” Patten said.

The house on Brightwood, Patten said, had also been the scene of several rap music videos created by Thomas, who is a rap musician and goes by the name Traedoe.

“The hidden messages that are being sent through these videos alone are enough to draw unwanted attention to the residence,” Patten said, “but again this was condoned and allowed by the family. Some family members were in the video as well as another individual that we currently have in jail in association with two other murders.”

Patten said the deputies in the video did touch the house owner’s private surveillance camera.

“In the video you can see officers check a building in the backyard,” Patten said. “The door was unlocked, and they looked in with a glance to make sure the suspect or anyone else wasn’t hiding in the shop/shed. When officers surrounded the house, someone did move the camera. This is a common practice with law enforcement now to move cameras when we are trying to apprehend a high profile target, who is known to have weapons and is willing to use them,” Patten said. “This situation certainly fit that criteria. More cops have been killed in the last two years in America than any other time in history. I will advise my deputies to always err on the side of caution. In this case everyone involved did just that. No one ever came to the door of the house and the residence was never searched.”

On Oct. 24, however, Thomas was arrested on outstanding NPD warrants for controlled substance after deputies stopped his car on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive. “As a result of the stop, Thomas was charged with possession of ecstasy with intent to traffic and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a school zone,” Patten said.

As a follow up, Patten said agents conducted a search warrant at 124 Brightwood on Oct. 29, and another location in Holiday Apartments, “based off recurring information and Thomas’ jailhouse phone calls about moving and hiding guns. Agents missed the guns in question but recovered a .22-caliber pistol from Holiday Apartments and a .380-caliber pistol from Brightwood.”

In his court appearance Nov. 15, Thomas’ probation was revoked, and he is serving his original five-year sentence in the MDOC prison.

“I sympathize with this family’s pain for the loss of their love one, and we have acted on everything that we received to try and help the Natchez Police Department find their family member’s killer, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to turn a blind eye to the individual in question’s actions or anyone else,” Patten said. “We have made several arrests in this blood feud and will continued to do so until it ends or everyone is locked up.”

Patten said since some individuals have been put in prison and surveillance cameras have been installed in Holiday Apartments and crime has decreased.

“When we get the evidence back on some of these guns that we have at the crime lab, we hope it has the same effect in the other areas,” Patten said. “At the end of the day, you have an individual or a small group of individuals who crave for chaos and disorder in this community. They use grieving families to push their hidden agenda. At the end of the day, we in law enforcement are the ones who keep disorder and hate from consuming this community. We will continue to stand against this at all costs. This generation and the next are depending on us.”

The Natchez Democrat reached out to Thomas’ family members who own the private surveillance camera and house on Brightwood for comment and they declined.