Father of accused shooter apologizes to Clarksdale officer's family

Father of accused shooter apologizes to Clarksdale officer's family
Corporal Derrick Couch (Source: Clarksdale Police Department)
Corporal Derrick Couch (Source: Clarksdale Police Department)

CLARKSDALE, MS (WMC) - A 19-year-old is facing attempted murder charges for the shooting of Clarksdale officer Corporal Derrick Couch.

Sunday, two men were taken into custody after surveillance footage caught the two men believed to be responsible for the shooting of Couch. One was Johnny Robinson Jr., 19. The other was later determined to not be involved. He's been released and investigators are now trying to find the second man seen on the surveillance video.

Robinson's father turned his son in to police at approximately 1 p.m Sunday. Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said Robinson is thought to be the person who shot Officer Crouch. Robinson can be seen on the surveillance video walking with a limp.

Robinson has been charged with two counts of armed robbery and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

This is not Robinson's first run-in with the law. Police said he robbed The Corner Grocery on October 27, 2015. February 13, 2016, he and an accomplice were caught on surveillance camera going into the same gas station to rob it again. Later that day, police said Robinson shot officer Couch as he tried to apprehend both suspects.

A hurting father apologizes

Robinson's father said police came to his home the same night as the shooting looking for his son. He said his son has no criminal past and this was unlike him, so he felt it was important to bring him in. Robinson's father did not dispute his son's involvement, but did apologize to the officer's family.

"If my son did this, I am sorry for him," Robinson said. "I hope they can forgive my son for that. My son is young; he's 19 years old. I didn't raise him like that. He got in with the wrong crowd."

Robinson said the decision to turn in his son was about doing the right thing in the midst of a tragedy.

"I had to do the right thing," he said. "If I can get him to go in before he gets hurt, that's what I did."

His apology did not fall on deaf ears. Derrick Couch's father, Alonzo Hardiman, said he understands how the crime has impacted both families.

"Their loss is just as bad as ours," Hardiman said. "It's hard right now."

Robinson's father also said he believes the second suspect should turn himself in.

Robinson's bond has been set at $700,000 for all three charges.

Couch still in hospital

Couch's family said he has undergone at least two surgeries. He has lost the use of one of his eyes and at least part of the bullet is still in his head.

However, family members said doctors told them Couch was now in critical, but stable, condition.

While Couch remains in the hospital, his family is hoping for the best.

"I haven't really cried, but I feel pretty bad," Hardiman said. "It's hard right now."

While Hardiman said it is tough watching his son suffer, he did say that his son is doing better.

"[The] doctor asked him to move his feet a little and he did do it, so he's a little better," Hardiman said. "It didn't have to go that way. They didn't have to rob a person and they surely didn't have to shoot my son."

"He's a good man. And if he can help you, he will help you," Couch's ex-wife, Keohwonna Sutton-Couch, said.

Sutton-Couch said Couch was on the phone with his daughter when he got the call that changed his life.

"He told his daughter, 'I'm going to call you back. Daddy has a phone call that I need to respond to,'" Sutton-Couch said. "Next thing I know, right at 10:00, we get a phone call that he's been airlifted to the med."

Couch is a father of five, a pastor at a Tunica church and has been a police officer for more than six years. Hardiman said his son was shot doing what he loves.

"Being a police officer seemed to have been one of his greatest joys besides being a family man and a minister."

Hardiman said he is praying for a miracle and hoping his son can spend his 40th birthday at home with his family next month.

"We're praying, but God has the last say so, and I believe he'll pull through, but what state he'll be in is a different question."

Couch's ex-wife said she knows he will pull through.

"That is a fighter; that's a fighter," Sutton-Couch said. "Most people don't survive that."

"For your son to get shot in the face doing his job," Hardiman said. "That's what makes it hard. He loved being a police officer."

Couch's family said they are grateful for the outpouring of support they have received from the community.

Second robbery suspect still on the run

Alfred Kemp said police came to his home at 3 a.m. Sunday. Police told him his son, Alfred Dewane Kemp, was a person of interest in the shooting of Corporal Derrick Couch. Kemp said his son was not at home when police arrived.

"It was a shocker to be waking up out of your sleep, the police at your door shining lights, saying they are looking for your child," Alfred Kemp said.

Kemp said his son came home later and he notified police.

"I called and said, 'if he's still a person of interest, he's here at the house. Y'all are welcome to come if he did do it,'" Kemp said. "Like I say, I'm a father that cares. There is no need for it, period; not Clarksdale or anywhere in the world."

Kemp's son insisted he was not involved. He was taken into custody and was later cleared.

"I'm happy that his name has been cleared, because that is my child," Kemp said. "I don't want anything to happen to him."

Police said the second suspect in the robbery is still on the loose. They are working on identifying him.

"Do the right thing; turn yourself in," Kemp said. "You were man enough to do the crime, do the time."

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