Last night, local businessman and media personality Jeff Harding was acquitted by Bay St Louis Municipal Court Judge Stephen Maggio of simple assault and following too closely charges brought against him by Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame’s daughter Katie Stewart. Maggio found Harding guilty of reckless driving for having a vehicle that had engine trouble on the roadways. Harding has not made a decision as to whether or not he will appeal the reckless driving conviction, which stemmed not from the facts alleged in Stewart’s affidavit but rather on defense’s admission the vehicle’s engine would not allow it to exceed 10-15 miles per hour on the roadways.
In her affidavits, Stewart alleged that Harding “did purposely, knowingly and unlawfully attempt to put (Stewart) in fear of imminent serious bodily harm by following her bumper to bumper, blasting horn, putting (her) and her 7-year-old in fear of causing accident or bodily harm”, an assertion that was directly contradicted by video evidence in the form of surveillance camera footage from various local business along the route that showed Harding’s vehicle was at times more than 150 feet behind Stewart, only catching up to her when she brought her vehicle to a virtual stop after hitting the curb at the intersection of Turner Street and U.S. 90 in Bay St Louis. Defense witness Aaron Whitney speculated that Stewart was trying to photograph the “Les Fillin’ Machine” before she sped away down 10th Street to the her parent’s residence, again well ahead of Harding, who apparently only sounded his horn once while passing the Mayor’s house instead of continuously, as alleged by Stewart.
Folks before you swear out a criminal complaint against someone you should always consider whether or not there are third party security videos that would undermine your affidavit. Did Katie Fillingame Stewart consider that the Camera Never Blinks? I’m thinking the answer to that question will be revealed in fairly short order.
Slabbed has seen two different security videos that depict the events leading to Ms. Stewart swearing out that criminal complaint against Harding. What was most interesting to me is the white vehicle that was tailgating Mr. Harding and the Les-Fiillin Machine aka the LesLie Mobile, who was around 11 seconds behind Ms. Stewart. This situation is still fluid folks but rumor holds that white vehicle behind Harding was being driven by a Bay St Louis police officer that would in turn be a witness to the entire chain of events. Maybe this is why sources are indicating to Slabbed that Bay St Louis Police Chief Denardo has turned this matter over to Hancock Sheriff Ricky Adams. Commenter Paying Attention revealed what could be a much bigger problem for Hizzoner last night:
It has been reported that they are following their adversaries with part time cops.
“We worry about the potential of people burning out, running into traffic and running into a bunch of people,” Dobbs said. “It also tears up the road. It just blows my mind when other cities allow it. We have zero tolerance for it.” ~ Biloxi Police after DUI arrest Cruisin’ the Coast 2015
The following comment was left on a Facebook post featuring the Youtube video above:
It’s official next year I will make my way to the bay …because the cops are dicks on the other end of 90 about the burn outs ..
I look at that Youtube video and can safely predict that it is a matter of time before people get hurt on Main Street in Bay St Louis during a future Cruising the Coast because it’s not a matter of if but when.
At least three Biloxi police officers and one Harrison County sheriff’s patrol unit responded to the scene on U.S. 90 at St. John Avenue. Neely was initially stopped for careless driving, Dobbs said, after he did a “burn out” on the road.
“We worry about the potential of people burning out, running into traffic and running into a bunch of people,” Dobbs said. “It also tears up the road. It just blows my mind when other cities allow it. We have zero tolerance for it.”
It blows my mind too as over-oiled cruisers garnering DUIs have now made the news twice over the weekend.
The arrest occurred around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Police obtained a search warrant to draw Neely’s blood to test for alcohol and drugs.
In addition, Neely received medical treatment for his injuries at Merit Health in Biloxi where he also submitted to a blood test because of a police search warrant.
Neely was booked into the Harrison County jail at 11:43 p.m. Saturday, the Harrison County jail docket says.
Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain set Neely’s total bond at $27,319.
Neely bonded out of jail at 6:46 a.m. Sunday, the docket says.