Burch family doesn't blame Marion County deputy for son's death

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - Saturday night a Columbia man was shot by a Marion County Police officer after drawing a weapon on a deputy, according to a Marion County Sheriff's Department news release.

Justin Burch was killed by a Marion County deputy after refusing to comply to the officer's demands of him dropping his weapon.

"Please keep us in your prayers and I would like to say that our good friend, Berkley Hall, is in here today at our request," said Carolyn Burch, Justin's grandmother.

Burch had no criminal history; however, his family said that the past doesn't matter, only what happened.

"Like I said, after a briefing from my officer, they responded to a domestic and it went bad from there. There is no other way to put it," said Berkely Hall, Marion County Sheriff.

The sheriff's office stressed that the deputy gave Burch numerous commands to drop his gun before the situation escalated.

"Justin, or Peewee, as he is better known as, pulled a gun," said Lavelle Burch, Justin's father. "The officer asked him to put the gun down. He did not. He actually, to the best of [my] knowledge, pulled the hammer back, so the police did what they had to do."

The sheriff's office said the last thing the deputy wanted to do was to take Burch's life.

"It's just one of those no win situations because we have a family grieving for the loss and an officer that's got to deal with this for the rest of his life that went home to his wife and kids," said Hall.

The Burch family reiterated that they do not hold anything against the sheriff's department for doing their job.

"I don't know personally the officer that did the shooting, but I want him to know that it's not his fault, he was just doing what he has to do, and we have no hard feelings whatsoever," said Lavelle.

Both parties stressed their want to end the rumors pertaining to Burch's death, specifically on social media forums.

"They need to be supporting these people instead of trying to make it worse for them, so I'm like the family, I'm asking you to stay off of there," said Hall. "If you don't have something positive to say [then] don't say it."

The deputy's name has still not been released and Sheriff Hall said it doesn't make a difference as to which deputy it was, adding that the deputy is a fine officer that he will continue to stand behind.

The Burch family has chosen to remember their lost loved one for the positive life he led.

"He was Paw-paw Junior," said his grandmother. "He could talk the birds out of the trees. He has his faults, but don't we all. But he was a very sweet child, loving."