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Suspect in Biloxi Cop Killing Appears to Smile After Manhunt Comes to an End


After a manhunt in Mississippi came to an end on Monday, the prime suspect in the murder of a police officer appeared to have smiled for the cameras before he was escorted into a police station.

Darian Tawan Atkinson, 19, was captured on Monday night. He now faces capital murder charges for allegedly killing veteran Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen on Sunday night. Atkinson’s older brother, Davian Lewanika Atkinson, has also been charged as an accessory to Officer McKeithen’s murder.

At this point, it is unclear whether McKeithen’s murder was a random act of violence or whether the 58-year-old officer was specifically targeted. Authorities have reportedly reviewed surveillance footage that allegedly shows the gunman nonchalantly walking around outside of McKeithen’s station house, then approaching McKeithen, and finally shooting him multiple times.

Following his capture, Atkinson appeared to be maintaining a relaxed demeanor; video footage appeared to show him smiling as he passed dozens of uniformed officers and bystanders on his way into the police station.

After the suspect’s apprehension, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller told reporters, “We feel vindicated. He’s been treated properly and fairly. And now we will grieve for the family.” When asked how he felt about Atkinson’s expression as he was taken into custody, Miller said he was “not bothered by his smile.”

Atkinson has been known to authorities since at least Feb. 2018, when he allegedly threatened to perpetrate a school shooting.

[screenshot via Associated Press]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos