CORRECTION (2:18 p.m., March 5, 2021): STATEMENTS SAID SIMMONS, NOT McINTYRE, HAD WEAPON
A since corrected paragraph in the story, "Four elected officials face court hearing after charging one another with assault," incorrectly stated that Tawanda Smith Shannon and Sandy Frieson Smith told police that Tameka McIntyre pulled a handgun from a purse. Written statements show that they instead implicated Margaret McIntyre Simmons. Specifically, Smith said in her handwritten, signed statement, "Margaret McIntyre approached me with pulling her gun out her purse." The Sun-Sentinel regrets the error.
UPDATE (4:18 p.m.): ALL CHARGES DROPPED, CASES DISMISSED
This afternoon in Tallahatchie County Justice Court for the First Judicial District, cases involving four elected Tallahatchie County officials who had filed charges against each other were dismissed after all four plaintiff-defendants decided to drop all of the charges that they had filed.
The four appeared Thursday (March 4) before Justice Judge Steve Ross in Charleston, with Sandy Frieson Smith represented by local attorney Tara Lang, while Tameka McIntyre, Tawanda Smith Shannon and Margaret McIntyre Simmons appeared without legal representation.
Smith was called before the judge's bench and filled out initial appearance papers about the charges she was facing, including a felony charge for the alleged use of a stun gun.
Tallahatchie County Prosecuting Attorney Carol Turner asked the judge for some time to speak with the four defendants, and they left the courtroom for a private discussion in an adjacent boardroom.
After some time, Turner reappeared in the courtroom to inform Ross that all parties had agreed to drop all charges.
Ross then declared all cases dismissed.
All four defendants were assessed the standard $110 fee to drop the charges.
Four elected Tallahatchie County officials have been arrested for their alleged involvement in an altercation last week that reportedly involved a firearm.
Two city commissioners, one school board member and one election commissioner are scheduled to gather in Tallahatchie County Justice Court at Charleston Thursday afternoon to answer charges each faces as a result of the clash.
According to records on file Tuesday night at the Tallahatchie County Jail in Charleston, arrested were:
» Tameka McIntyre, 37, of 1473 Marshall Road, Charleston, on two charges of simple assault causing bodily injury; one charge of cyberstalking, email threats/harassment; and one charge of a telecommunications crime/threat. McIntyre is the Education District 7 representative on the East Tallahatchie School District Board of Trustees.
» Tawanda Smith Shannon, 46, of 189 Mulberry St., Charleston, on one charge of simple assault causing bodily injury and one charge of disturbing the public peace. Shannon represents Ward 3 on the Charleston Board of Commissioners.
» Margaret McIntyre Simmons, 56, of 173 Curtis Dr., Charleston, on one charge of simple assault causing bodily injury. Simmons represents District 1 on the Tallahatchie County Election Commission.
» Sandy Frieson Smith, 41, of 408 E. Walnut St., Charleston, on one charge of simple assault causing bodily injury; one charge of aggravated assault use of a deadly weapon; and one charge of disturbing the public peace. Smith represents Ward 4 on the Charleston Board of Commissioners.
All were served warrants and turned themselves in prior to being booked Tuesday afternoon at the Charleston jail. McIntyre, Shannon and Simmons were released on recognizance bonds and Smith was released on an appearance bond, all within 30 minutes of their arrests, according to the jail docket.
The charges reportedly stem from an incident that occurred on the night of Tuesday, Feb. 23.
At 6:48 p.m. that day, a dispatcher at the Charleston jail received a call about a disturbance at 265 E. Cypress St. in the city.
Charleston police responded, arriving at the scene within minutes, according to radio logs. At 6:54 p.m., police informed the dispatcher that “one-half” of the party had left while the other was coming to the police station to file a report about what happened.
Due to clear conflicts of interest in the case — two defendants are city board members and one of those, Smith, is the police commissioner — the Charleston Police Department was advised by the district attorney’s office to hand off the case to the sheriff’s office.
Although the alleged incident occurred within the city limits, with the case now under the purview of the sheriff’s office, county justice court assumed ownership of judicial proceedings.
Justice Judge Steve Ross of Tallahatchie County’s First Judicial District is set to preside over the matter.
Statements and general affidavits on file at the justice court clerk’s office in Charleston weave a narrative of allegations made by the defendants against one other, as well as by four other witnesses said to be present at the scene of the incident.
Among the allegations, in no particular order, are:
• The brouhaha is said to have occurred in the front yard of the Cypress Street residence, reportedly the home of a McIntyre relative, after McIntyre and Smith argued over the phone.
• Statements identified seven people were at the house when Shannon and Smith drove up together.
• McIntyre and Smith allegedly became embroiled in a heated verbal altercation, which reportedly spilled over to others in the yard. A chaotic scene of yelling and cursing is described.
• McIntyre said she grabbed at Smith, tearing her shirt, at which time Shannon allegedly began “swinging.”
• Smith is accused of pulling a small-caliber silver handgun from her pocket with her right hand and pointing the weapon at McIntyre’s head before threatening, “b---h, I will blow your brains out,” and then brandishing a small stun gun in her left hand and shooting McIntyre several times with the stun gun.
• A witness stated that, “As the situation escalated, there were shots fired” from the stun gun.
• Smith later told police that she did not display a pistol during the incident, and both she and Shannon claimed it was Simmons who pulled the gun from her purse. Smith said she then drew the stun gun.
• A witness said an onlooker forcibly lifted Smith’s right arm “to keep her from shooting Tameka” with the pistol. There is no report that a handgun was discharged.
• Smith said McIntyre took a swing at her, reportedly cutting Smith’s lip.
• McIntyre said Shannon struck her “with a fist on her upper body.”
• Shannon said McIntyre hit her, after which Shannon said she “hit her back.”
• A witness stated that Shannon accused McIntyre of being a “Facebook thug” before hitting McIntyre “two or three times.”
• Shannon said McIntyre has been posting derogatory messages about her on Facebook for “almost two years.”
While at the police station later, Smith was asked about a stun gun and she handed it over to police, but no handgun was produced.
A charge is merely an accusation of wrongdoing. All defendants are presumed to be innocent unless they are found guilty in a court of law.
Editor's note: This version of the story has been revised to correct the previously reported error, that Simmons and Smith "claimed it was McIntyre who pulled the gun from her purse." Written statements show that Simmons and Smith instead implicated Margaret McIntyre Simmons.