Mayor reviewing city policy on criminal investigations after Councilman Pierre Beard’s domestic violence arrest

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Mayor Keith Gaskin says he is reviewing the way the Columbus Police Department and the Municipal Court handled City Councilman Pierre Beard’s arrest for misdemeanor domestic violence.

“Because he is an elected official and this is being handled within the city right now, we’re making sure that all the policies and procedures are being carried out,” Mayor Gaskin says. “One of the things that I have found out is that we don’t really have a lot of written policies.”

Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton says Officers were called to Beard’s Byrnes Circle home about 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Police say Beard and his wife were reportedly in an argument that night when a gun was fired in their backyard.

“There could be times where the city police department would arrive, secure the scene and then the sheriff’s department could be called in to take the case over at that point,” the mayor says. “That was not what happened in this case.”

No one was injured, but Beard left the scene before law enforcement got there.

He turned himself in Friday afternoon and Municipal Court Judge Rhonda Hayes Ellis ordered him held until 10 p.m. at the Adult Detention Center.

“I believe the judge that had the hearing, originally in municipal court, has already requested that the next hearing be in Justice Court,” Mayor Gaskin says.

In the meantime, the mayor says he is in the process of collecting what rules are in place at city hall and the police department regarding criminal investigations of elected city officials.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a policy that handled this completely,” he says. “I’ve been told that there were different policies within the police department before.”

He says his main concern is to make sure there is no conflict of interest at any level regarding Beard’s arrest.

“When you’re mayor or a member of the council, you have direct authority over hiring and firing and setting the salary of police officers, the police chief, the judges, the city prosecutors, all that comes under the jurisdiction of the mayor and the city council.”

Beard has served on the city council since 2019. He was released on a recognizance bond Friday night with orders to stay away from his wife until a hearing can be held on the case’s merits.

“I can assure the citizens that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that this has been handled and will be handled properly,” Gaskin says.

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