The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department has concluded that no criminal activity took place when three supporters of Mississippi GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel found themselves locked in the county courthouse with primary ballots at 2 a.m. on Election Night.
“Based on our findings and subsequent conclusion, there is no reason to believe that the three individuals engaged in any criminal activity nor do we believe any laws were broken,” Othor Cain, a department spokesman, said in a statement.
According to Cain, Janis Lane, Scott Brewster, and Rob Chambers entered the courthouse through a door marked for employees only. It had been propped open or “was malfunctioning” when they entered, he said. They only ever had access to common areas, such as hallways and restrooms, and the ballots were always secured, according to Cain.
Though Lane had initially told others that uniformed personnel had let them into the building, the sheriff’s department specifically refuted that claim.
The door through which they entered closed afterward, Cain said, which had forced them to call others for assistance.
The exact nature of the incident has engulfed the Mississippi primary since Wednesday, and the sheriff’s department had earlier said that the three people found inside the county courthouse had given “conflicting” stories about what happened.
The full statement is below.
The Hinds County Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into why three–tea party members with ties to the Chris McDaniel campaign were found locked inside of a Hinds County Courthouse.
Based on our findings and subsequent conclusion, there is no reason to believe that the three individuals engaged in any criminal activity nor do we believe any laws were broken.
Our investigation revealed that the three individuals were able to enter the courthouse through a side-door marked for employees only. This door was either propped-open or was malfunctioning at the time of entry.
Contrary to earlier reports, no uniformed personnel and more specifically, no employee of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office assisted these individuals with gaining access to the courthouse.
Voters in Hinds County can rest assured that there wasn’t a breach of security as it relates to the integrity of the voting process. All voting ballots were placed in a secured vault inside of the Hinds County Circuit Clerk’s Office, which was also locked during the time these individuals were in the building.
These individuals only had access to the common areas of the courthouse, which includes the hallways, and restroom area.
Based on our findings the door in question closed behind them upon entry and they proceeded to look for individuals that were counting ballots in an effort to assist. After not finding anyone in the building it is then they called for assistance to get out.
No one was apprehended in this process and as it stands, this investigation is closed.
Photo: Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis (Facebook)