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Love City minister claims Meridian police harassed him

By By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 14, 2002
Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith said police investigators are looking into a minister's claim that an officer treated him like a criminal and left him handcuffed in a police car.
The Rev. Lamorris S. Richardson, 37, pastor of Love City Fellowship Church held a press conference to make his claims public at noon on Wednesday. About 20 parishioners stood behind him.
Richardson said the incident happened Tuesday between 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the area of 26th Avenue and 19th Street after someone stole a parishioner's car during a church service.
Richardson called for the Meridian Police Department to apologize for the way he was treated, particularly after he claimed he helped officers find the car.
Chief Benny DuBose and Assistant Chief Keith McCary were out of town at a police training seminar and unavailable for comment Wednesday. Capt. Betty Evans is acting chief. The mayor said he and Evans have discussed the matter.
Richardson is a black leader of a multi-racial, 800-member church. He said the officer he claims mistreated him is white.
Richardson appeared hesitant to claim racism, but relented when reporters asked him the question.
Smith said he wished Richardson had come to him. "My door is always open," the mayor said.
According to Richardson, police were called after the theft of the parishioner's car, a 1996 Honda. Richardson, driving on 24th Avenue, claimed he saw the car and called 911. He said he does not know whether the thief was caught.
Richardson claimed when he demanded the car be dusted for fingerprints and searched for clues, an upset officer approached from behind, handcuffed him and left him in a police car for more than 10 minutes. He claimed he was set free only after parishioners arrived at the scene.
Richardson said he later went to the police station and that the car was processed.
Richardson said he is considering a lawsuit.
A native of Columbus, Richardson was accompanied at Wednesday's press conference by his wife, Yolanda. The couple have two children.