Community mourns Panola County constable killed in crash

Updated: Dec. 13, 2019 at 5:06 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Panola County residents are heartbroken over the loss of a public servant and friend to many.

"We see each other all the time. We're not only friends, but we're buddies. You know? It's personal," said Sheriff Dennis Darby.

Darby is talking about Constable Raye Hawkins. He was a longtime friend with close to 30 years of law enforcement experience. Hawkins began his career with the Batesville Police Department in 1990 and later was elected constable.

"Raye Hawkins was the kind of public servant that he came to help anytime we had a problem in Batesville. If Raye was in earshot of that radio he was coming to help," said Batesville Police Chief James McCloud.

Hawkins, 57, was killed Thursday afternoon around 2:30 in a crash involving two teens who stole a vehicle from Tallahatchie County.

His son, who's a Batesville Police officer, was one of the first to respond to the scene.

"As they were approaching the City of Batesville, Constable Hawkins was helping out and the vehicle which was going at a very high rate of speed hit and just crushed and mangled his vehicle," said District Attorney John Champion.

The teens, who have been identified as 16-year-old Darion Dogan and 15-year-old Johnathan Taylor, are charged with murder and will be tried as adults under Mississippi law.

Sheriff Darby says Hawkins served the south-end of the county and would often serve warrants and assist law enforcement officers.

"His attitude is what got him in there. He was kind and gentle. Even when it was ugly he knew how to sit down and talk to people who were angry and upset," said Darby.

He was a true public servant who will be missed by many.

"I was proud to be a friend, a buddy to him and have the relationship that we did and I think everybody here that's in law enforcement and every agency can say the same," said Darby.

Sheriff Darby says a special election will likely be held to fill Raye Hawkins' constable position.

The teens charged in this case are being held at a juvenile detention center in DeSoto County.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the crash.

According to Batesville Police, Hawkins’ body will be transported from Jackson to Batesville Friday night, arriving around 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Anyone who wishes to show their support may gather in parking lots to pay respects.

The route will exit off Interstate 55 onto Hwy 6 west, traveling to Hwy 51 and going north.

Funeral services will be announced as soon as they are finalized. A larger scale of “Sea of Blue” will be planned and will likely follow the visitation services.

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