By Crystal Burns
Trenton Police Chief Bill Cusson presented commendations to two Trenton officers and a Gibson County Sheriff’s deputy and his canine partner at the Jan. 14 City Council meeting.
Cusson and Lt. Jimmy Wilson lauded Sgt. Xavier Keys, Ptlm. Logan Farley, Lt. Ryan Pope and Astor for their heroic actions in responding to a homicide at 808 South Lexington Street in Trenton in the early morning hours of Sunday, Dec. 8.
Madison Bright, an 18-year-old woman from Atwood, was shot and killed in what police believe was a reckless act. Deandrez Belew, 23, is charged with reckless homicide for allegedly brandishing a handgun that was accidentally discharged.
Belew is set for a jury trial in Gibson County Circuit Court on April 29.
Cusson told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that after any critical incident, he and his executive staff conduct a full review of all actions taken by first responders “to insure we did and do everything possible to bring the person responsible for this tragedy to justice,” he said. “During this review, we recognized that the actions of our officers who were first to arrive on scene were not only heroic, but there is no doubt that the decisions and actions that they took greatly affected the potential outcome of this case.”
Wilson outlined the officers’ actions.
“During their approach to the scene, [Keys and Farley] witnessed a vehicle fleeing the scene,” he said. “Sgt. Keys instructed Ptlm. Farley to attempt to stop the vehicle. Pltm. Farley performed a felony traffic stop on the vehicle on Stadium Street, a short distance from the scene of the shooting. Sgt. Keys stopped at the scene of the shooting to gain control of the scene. The decision to commit to both scenes turned out to be a vital piece of the investigation. Because of their quick decision making, we were able to recover the handgun used in the homicide, the shell casing of the bullet fired, and all of the witnesses were quickly identified. At the time, there were only two officers working at the Trenton Police Department, and backup came from the Gibson County Sheriff’s Department who responded as quickly as possible. The decision to split up and commit to a solo response to the shooting scene and a solo response to the fleeing vehicle put Sgt. Keys and Ptlm. Farley at great personal risk. Sgt. Keys and Ptlm. Farley displayed courage, bravery, and a commitment to duty during the initial response to the homicide scene.”
Cusson presented both officers with letters of commendations, and they received a standing ovation from the council, department heads, and citizens in attendance.
Wilson also applauded Pope’s and Astor’s contributions to the investigation. He said the duo stopped at the scene of the traffic stop to assist Farley. When Wilson, the Trenton Police Department’s lead investigator, arrived on the scene, Pope suggested that Astor could conduct an article search.
“During the article search, Lt. Pope, using his canine partner, located a 9mm handgun in an overgrown fence line behind 820 South Lexington Street,” Wilson said. “The investigation into the homicide later revealed that this was the handgun used in the shooting. Lt. Pope’s recommendation and use of his canine partner proved to be a vital piece of the investigation. Lt. Pope displayed the commitment to excellence in maintaining a well-trained canine partner.”
Cusson presented Pope with letters of commendation for him and Astor, and they also received standing ovations.
Wilson noted that Bright’s mother, Jamie Forrest, was present at the meeting to support the responding officers. He extended the department’s condolences to her.