Wildlife Department, Agents Named in Lawsuit

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A $1 million lawsuit has been filed by David Brian Stokes of Lauderdale County against the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The suit stems from Stokes' arrest for headlighting deer resulting from an undercover operation by the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission that he says was begun at the request of local agent Bobby Wilder and carried out by undercover agent Perry Gann. Both were also named as defendants.

"If they go out and catch somebody headlighting deer that's fine, but that's not what happened," said Stokes. "That's not what happened at all."

Stokes claims it was undercover agent Gann who supplied the transportation and the weapon needed to commit the offense and claims constant harassment and name calling by Gann to pressure him into night hunting and that it amounts to entrapment.

"What this guy did was he talked people into going riding with him. He was actually the one doing the driving, doing the spotlighting and drinking the beer," Stokes said. "We didn't shoot at any deer. We didn't do anything like that. We just rode around in the truck."

But Stokes says about a month after taking that ride he was arrested for headlighting deer.

"I've never done it. I never known anybody that were night hunters except the game warden," said Stokes.

Stokes was found guilty of the charge in Lauderdale County Justice Court, but appealed to county court where the charges against him were dismissed due to "sufficient evidence to support Stokes' claim of entrapment."

Officials at the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks directed our questions about the claims to the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. Our calls to the A.G.'s office were not returned.