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Mississippi briefs

Jackson County animal shelter worker jailed in alleged theft

GAUTIER (AP) — A Gautier man is behind bars after being accused of stealing from the Jackson County Animal Shelter.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department tells Mississippi Gulf Coast news outlets that the shelter reported $600 missing in February. The sheriff’s office says 29-year-old shelter employee David Elias Kihyet, Jr. was arrested at the shelter in Gautier on Friday.

Kihyet was arrested on an embezzlement charge and on a drug possession charge. Deputies found drugs in his possession when he was arrested.

Kihyet is on probation with the Mississippi Department of Corrections on unrelated charges. He was being held Friday without bond at the Jackson County jail, pending a court appearance.

Jackson’s first black police officer given lifetime award

JACKSON (AP) — A retired police officer in Mississippi was honored as a pioneer for African Americans in local law enforcement.

Local news outlets report the City of Jackson presented a lifetime achievement award Thursday to its first African American police officer, Joe Land.

In 1963 Land was one of six African Americans who were sworn into Jackson’s police force. News reports from April 10 say the 80-year-old served the city for more than two years and is the only of the original black officers still alive.

Land was picked up from his home in a limo and motorcade then taken to police headquarters. He says the recognition was a long time coming but a blessing he’s proud of.

Police chief Lee Vance says it’s because of Land that he’s in his position today.

School district settles suit over 2014 death of 7th grader

MOSS POINT (AP) — Court records show the Moss Point School District in south Mississippi has settled a lawsuit over the death of a 7th-grader.

The parents of Lorel Ka’heim Malone say he died because school officials failed to stop other students at Magnolia Middle School from bullying him over his religion.

Financial terms of the March 29 settlement are confidential, The Sun Herald reported Friday.

The federal lawsuit filed by Dominic Malone and Lakenisa Nobles said their 12-year-old son died March 7, 2014 — one day after students who had bullied him since that January “attacked and assaulted him.”

School district attorney Walter Dukes declined to comment to the newspaper and he did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Friday. The district denied wrongdoing.

The lawsuit said Lorel collapsed on a school floor after the attack and was unconscious when paramedics found him. He died the next day at the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital of what the suit described as injuries “sufficient to trigger the onset on a fatal health crisis involving his heart.”

The family’s attorney, state Rep. Ed Blackmon of Canton, said Lorel died of an undetected heart condition exacerbated by stress.

The family said Lorel suffered abuse from the time he enrolled in Magnolia Middle School in January 2014. The lawsuit said he was a deeply religious child who often handed out crosses, pictures of angels and what he described as a slogan against bullying, “Be a hero, take a stand.” He was also bullied because of his clothes, size and appearance, the lawsuit said.

Lorel’s father and grandmother met several times with Joanne Pettaway, who was principal then, to describe the bullying and to request help, the lawsuit said. The suit said Lorel was moved to another class while the students they say bullied him apparently suffered no consequences.