Mayor, law enforcement, and community members honor fallen officers in emotional vigil

Mayor, law enforcement, and community members honor fallen officers in emotional vigil

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A vigil at Lake Terrace Convention Center honored  two fallen Hattiesburg police officers Monday afternoon..

Officers Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25, were killed during a traffic stop in Downtown Hattiesburg Saturday night.

The program consisted of emotional tributes from the mayor, local law enforcement, and community members.

"Today's vigil just showed 100% how much the families the department, the community in general, are one," said Lt. Jon Traxler, HPD. "It's not a division, its not anything like that. We are a group, we are a happy family, even in this time of sorrow, we're still together; we're there for one another."

Several state and municipal officials also spoke at the vigil, remembering the officers as two of the city's finest.

"So many of these police officers risk their lives; we never hear about it until there's a tragedy like this," said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.  "We can't condone this. The people here are to give comfort to the families, but we want justice at the end because they deserve justice. Today we'll grieve; soon enough we'll get about justice."

Governor Phil Bryant recalled his days as an officer, and spoke of how proud he was of the fallen officers.

"They served the Hattiesburg Police Department, and they belonged to us all," said Bryant. "They were Mississippians."

Hattiesburg police officer Jason Jarvis gave an emotional tribute to Liquori Tate, who was skeptical of him during the academy.

"I never thought he [Tate] was mentally strong enough, but I soon found out that he wanted to be an officer more than anyone else that I know," said Jarvis. "His dream finally came true."

Jarvis recalled Tate's humor and excitement regarding the force. Before leaving the podium, Jarvis choked back tears as he apologized to his family.

"His sacrifice will never be forgotten, I'm sorry that there wasn't anything else that I could do for him," said Jarvis.

Peggy Sealy spoke of the honors Benjamin Deen received in his time at the department.

Sealy said that Deen once saved a family from their burning home in the middle of the night, which led him to receive the Officer of the Year award in 2012. Sealy also noted how many drug arrests he made.

"We always joked, 'not bad for a country boy,'" said Sealy.

Mayor Johnny DuPree closed the program, reiterating the promise he made to the community and families.

"I made one promise to the families at the hospital: to find the people that did this, and we did," said DuPree.

Before closing the program, DuPree choked back tears as he addressed the officer's families directly.

"Robin, Deen Family, Yolanda, Tate family, we love you," said Dupree. "Your community loves you, and God loves you. God bless."

Youlander Ross, mother of Officer Liquori Tate, expressed her gratitude to the visitors, community members, and officers who have expressed themselves.

"I was honored, very honored," Ross said. "To hear the police officers, their comments, how they enjoyed working with him, and how my son impacted their lives everyday. I was very honored and proud of my son." 

A fund has been set up through the Greater Community Foundation for the fallen officer's families. For more information on how to donate,

The initial appearance of the four suspects will also take place Monday afternoon. Stay tuned to

for more details.