It appears that Tallahatchie County Prosecutor John W. “Crazy John” Whitten, III has once again visited terror upon the citizenry of Tallahatchie County. This time, he’s taken bad behavior to a whole new level.
Apparently, Crazy John has decided to take up manhunting as a new hobby. On August 20, 2009, William Pittman, a young African-American male, was a suspect in a burglary in Sumner, Mississippi. Police were searching for Pittman immediately after a home was burglarized.
Whitten, who is not a law enforcement officer, took it upon himself to join the manhunt. Ever the dedicated public servant, Whitten even used his own personal armored personnel carrier to assist in the search. Then, things really got crazy. And not just “crazy.” Crazy John “crazy.”
As first reported by the blog W.E.A.L.L.B.E.,
Sometime Thursday, August 20, 2009, Pittman & his friend McKeel Scott (at the time of this writing his whereabouts is still unknown) were accused by John Whitten III, the CountyAttorney of Tallahatchie County, of burglarizing the home of a neighbor and quite possible a relative…According to several sources, the boys were not actually caught in anybody’s home at that time, but were still accused. This supposed act infuriated Mr. Whitten, whose father, John Whitten Jr., was the defense attorney for the killers of Emmett Till (the brothers J.W. Milam & Roy Bryant), and so instead of going through the proper channels he decided to seek his own brand of vigilante justice, southern style.
He organized a militia of what could best be described as a lynch mob. Some of these men were actual law enforcement officers while others such as the case of an unidentified white maintenance man from Tutwiler, MS, simply wore a police uniform and was given a police car along with plenty of booze, guns and ammunition. Even the K-9 unit from the Department of Corrections at the notorious Parchman State Penitentiary was alerted for this mission. In addition to the man, fire and canine power, Whitten deployed two military tanks for the purpose of hunting down Mr. Will Pittman as well…
[N]ot knowing where Pittman was hiding with the only visible evidence being footprints that seemed to lead to nowhere, by this time the would-be executioners, literally drunken with sadistic power as well as large quantities of alcohol, out of frustration of not being able to find the wily Pittman, began to shoot wildly into and around the field with their 50 caliber machine guns, assault rifles and tank.
Several law officials in the area were well aware of as well as disturbed by what was going on in Sumner. Sheriff Deputy Willie Booker of Tallahatchie County was at the scene and called Sheriff William Brewer about what was taking place to stop the potential lynching and reinforce law and order, but was told not to get involved and leave. Not wanting the death of Will Pittman on his conscience, Sheriff Deputy Booker alerted Attorney Ellis Pittman of Clarksdale, MS, the father of Will Pittman, about the mayhem taking place up in Sumner. Once he became aware that his son was the target of lynch mob justice by a man, John Whitten III, who is a sworn mortal enemy of his from their confrontations in the judicial arena, Attorney Pittman immediately alerted the appropriate authorities and shortly thereafter got into his car in a literal race of life and death to Sumner, Ms…
Once they find out who Will’s father was many more heeded the call…Some of the law officials then negotiated a peaceful surrender of Will Pittman to law enforcement officers and he was placed in Sumner jail without any further incident or bodily harm. John Whitten frustrated and enraged in coming up short of his intentions then allegedly told Cornelius Pittman in the field the following:
Unbelievable, you say? Not if you knew John Whitten. A few years ago Crazy John and his redneck mob went after three men who drove across land that was controlled by Whitten. For allegedly trespassing on his land, Whitten fired a .45 caliber pistol at the men’s truck, and eventually punctured one of the tires. Whitten then held the men against their will, while he cursed and threatened them. Eventually Crazy John decided to free the men and send them on their way, rather than take them before “that n***er judge right there in Sumner.”
The men sued Whitten for assault, battery and false imprisonment. A jury awarded them $60,000.00 in damages. The opinion of the Mississippi Supreme Court is an interesting read, and can be found here.
Based upon this latest incident, it doesn’t look like having to pay $60,000.00 has deterred Whitten from acting like a fool. Further, it appears that Tallahatchie County Sheriff William Brewer is suffering from a bad case of testicular deficiency syndrome, and can’t make Crazy John behave.
Thankfully, the FBI is investigating. Maybe federal law enforcement can get this nut under control before someone really gets hurt.
And this guy is a prosecutor. Scary, huh?