Killing of Versie Johnson in Mississippi in 1947


Case summary

Versie Johnson, about 30, a sawmill worker, was killed in police custody in 1947 in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi. Johnson was charged with raping a pregnant white woman. The police claimed that while in the custody of sheriff G. O. Berry, patrolmen J. S. Puckett and Andy Hopkins, Versie Johnson attempted to grab the gun of one of the officers, whereupon all three officers fired at him. Undetermined is what, if any, legal process was pursued against the killers, but reportedly the local district attorney, E.B. Williams, indicated that any trial would be “a mere formality,” intended to “clear the names of the white men.” The killers, the district attorney stated, were “perfectly justified in what they did.”


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: police

Date of incident: 1947-08-01
Location: Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi
Location type: private space - domestic
Allegation against victim: raping a pregnant white woman; attacking a police officer

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: [ ]
Finding of no legal responsibility: [ ]

Criminal process
Arrest: yes
Charge/indictment/information: [ ]
Grand jury: [ ]
Trial: yes
Conviction: no
Sentence: [ ]

DOJ case ID:


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