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April 27, 2014

'Suicide by cop' death ends police standoff

MERIDIAN, Miss — A young fugitive was shot and killed by SWAT police in this Mississippi town Friday when he emerged from a three-hour standoff at a relative's home firng a handgun at officers while a crowd of bystanders looked on.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie told the Meridian Star newspaper it "was as clear of an example of 'suicide by cop' that i've ever seen."

Sollie said authorities had to shoot Emmanuel Wooten, 20, of Meridian, after he flung open the front door and ran directly at officers, firing his gun at them.

"He forced us to take action," said Sollie. "We had no choice."

A manhunt for Wooten had been underway since an April 15 apartment break-in that included the intruder firing shots at a mother and her two young children, one of whom was struck with a bullet, before fleeing with the woman's purse. The wounded child is recovering.

Sheriff Sollie said police were also involved in a brief shootout with Wooten earlier in the week when officers stopped him for a traffic violation. Sollie said Wooten escaped into a nearby wooded area.

Two days later, authorities learned Wooten was holed up with his girlfriend at the home of relatives. The sheriff's SWAT team surrounded the home at 10 a.m. Friday and began negotiations with Wooten.

Sollie said Wooten promptly released three relatives, but said he was holding his girlfriend as a hostage. Two hours later she ran from the home, informing poice Wooten had no intention of being taken alive.

Officers then tossed a tear gas canister into the home through an open window, and within a half-hour Wooten burst through the front door.

Reporter Brian Livingston with the Meridian Star photographed Wooten as he was hit by bullets and stumbled to the pavement. He said about 50 bystanders who had gathered during the standoff witnessed the shootout.

County Coroner Clayton Cobler said Wooten died an hour later at a nearby hospital from multiple gunshot wounds.

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