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Who is Eric Boykin? White cops pose with Black bank robbery suspect in controversial arrest photo

The photo emerged a day after Eric Boykin was arrested on May 25, for allegedly holding up a Hancock Bank in Prentiss and fleeing the scene
The officers posing with Eric Boykin are yet to be identified (WLBT)
The officers posing with Eric Boykin are yet to be identified (WLBT)

PRENTISS, MISSISSIPPI: Four White police officers have come under fire after posing for a photo with a smiling, shirtless, and handcuffed Black bank robbery suspect following a massive manhunt in Mississippi. The photo emerged a day after the suspect was arrested on Tuesday, May 25, for allegedly holding up a Hancock Bank in Prentiss and fleeing the scene. 

The Daily Mail reported that it was not immediately clear which agency the officers in the controversial photo belonged to. Prentiss Police investigator Richard Browning confirmed to the tabloid that the officers were not part of his department and speculated that they may have come in from Louisiana to join the search.


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WLBT's since-deleted tweet with the controversial photo. (Twitter)

“I didn't even know about the photo until reporters started calling me,” Browning said. “It's unfortunate. I agree that it's in poor taste.” The Louisiana law enforcement agency that reportedly participated in the search was a Louisiana State Prison System K9 team.

Who is Eric Boykin?

Eric Boykin was arrested on Tuesday as a suspect for the Prentiss bank robbery. Multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies joined the search before Boykin was found in a wooded area about 600 yards from the bank.

The manhunt included officers from the ATF, FBI, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Department of Corrections, the Louisiana State Prison System K9 team, the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbia Police Department.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency also reportedly pitched in, bringing in a drone to help search for the suspect from the air. Boykin has been charged with armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following the arrest, police officers took a photo surrounding Boykin, who was seen smiling in the photo with several officers and dogs.

As per an April 2017 report, Boykin, who was then wanted on a felony drug possession charge and for questioning in a case involving the shooting death of a Gulfport teenager turned himself in. Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said that Boykin was subsequently taken to the Harrison County jail. Boykin and his girlfriend, Tracey Dubose, were reportedly wanted for questioning in an investigation involving Dubose’s son in the March 2017 killing of 17-year-old TyJuan Johnson, who was shot several times.

Eric Boykin's mugshot from 2017. (Harrison County Sheriff's Office)

WLBT, the news agency that originally published the photo with the story, reportedly later added to the report: “WLBT has asked multiple agencies for the identity of the officers pictured and whether a department’s normal procedure is to take pictures like this at the end of a search operation. At this point, the routine procedure and identities of the officers are unknown. We’ll continue asking those questions and make updates available.”

But not before there was a widespread outrage online. “So either 1) none of the people involved, from the officers to the news station to the staffer who posted this, realized what a bad look this is or 2) they do know how it looks, and that’s why they posted it. Those are the only two possibilities! and they are both very very bad,” tweeted Josie Duffy Rice, a criminal justice system reporter and president of The Appeal.

“This picture has a very unsettling 'big game hunt' vibe. Like, how did it come about? ‘Hey guys, gather 'round so we can remember this moment, bring the dogs!’ I hope I'm wrong,” wrote a Twitter user. One Twitter user said, “The more time passes, the more it becomes abundantly clear these folks are dying to go back to slavery days, maybe when they felt their lives had meaning... idk. I do know, I’m so over it. This is disgusting.”