Meridian Star

March 18, 2013

Investigation continues into trooper beatings case

Associated Press

TUPELO — TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's top law enforcement officials say federal investigators are now looking at supervisors of a former trooper who admitted slamming a woman to the floor and stamping on her in the Lee County Jail.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol called the FBI, Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (

Public complaints about troopers usually go through a series of internal reviews, but that didn't happen in the case of Chris Hughes, he said. The former Biloxi-area trooper pleaded guilty recently to depriving the woman of her civil rights.

The DPS chief said he doesn't know what the FBI has or will learn, but agents surely are looking at who knew about the Hughes incidents and what actions they took about them.

A recently filed federal civil lawsuit against Hughes and three unidentified officers claims to document seven incidents in which Hughes beat or otherwise mistreated motorists he stopped on north Mississippi roadways from 2007 through July 16, 2012.

An official response Friday to queries about Hughes' supervisors — including who they were and whether they knew about the beating allegations — said they were a personnel matter not likely to be answered soon because of a federal investigation, the newspaper reported.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson installed a video camera system at the county jail in 2004.

He said the woman who was beaten in 2007 never filed a complaint with his office, but his staff realized "there was a situation" with a trooper and his chief deputy contacted Hughes' immediate supervisors.

Johnson said he never heard from MHP after investigators picked up a copy of the jail video.

Years went by.

"The next thing I heard about it," Johnson said, "the FBI contacted us.