HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the first time since HPD officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate were killed in a traffic stop in Hattiesburg, the family of officer Tate came face-to-face with Mary Smith. She is the mother of the two brothers, Marvin and Curtis Banks, suspected in the killings of both officers.
The meeting was during a special program to honor both officers at First Trinity Baptist Church in Hattiesburg Sunday.
Officer Tate's mother, Youlander Ross, said she had mixed emotions meeting Smith for the first time.
“I just felt compelled to just embrace her,” Youlander Ross said.
Tate's stepfather, Lonnie Ross, said the service was about healing and reconciliation. They also wanted Smith to know that she is not to blame for the senseless tragedy.
“I can't imagine being in her position," Lonnie Ross said. "It's tough enough being in ours, which is unimaginable, yet she is on the other end of the spectrum, and I know this has to be destroying her.”
The family said the sudden loss of their son has been a tough pill to swallow, but the love and support from the community has made all the difference.
“That is my passion from now forward in honoring Liquori," Youlander Ross said. "I make it my business, that no matter where I see a police officer, I will stop, make my way over to that police officer, shake their hand and let them know I appreciate what (they) do every day. Thank you."