Det. Huckabee interview
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 – 3:10 p.m.
Jason Huckabee is narcotics detective with the YCSD and was one of Charles Tatum's co-workers.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked to him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective J. Huckabee
Detective Murphy: Thanks for your time, Jason.
Detective Huckabee: Absolutely. You know I want to help.
Detective Murphy: Please state your name and address.
Detective Huckabee: I'm Jason Huckabee, and I live at 1005 Chickasaw road in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Your relationship with Charles Tatum?
Detective Huckabee: We were co-workers. We worked together on a number of cases.
Detective Murphy: We've gotten plenty of information from the sergeant and lieutenant about Charlie's personal life and his career. For this conversation, we'd like you to focus on The Rebel Yell. We understand that you and Charlie often went and checked the place out.
Detective Huckabee: Yes, Charlie approached me about six months ago with suspicions that drugs were being sold out of the club. He had gotten a tip from an informant, and Little Bobby also told me about it one day when I brought him in for dealing. As we began to investigate, we became suspicious that a lot of other illegal activities were occurring there.
Detective Armstrong: Such as?
Detective Huckabee: In addition to selling dope, we began to believe that prostitutes were working out of the bar and that there was a significant sports book there.
Detective Murphy: So what did you do?
Detective Huckabee: We've never had an official complaint lodged against The Rebel Yell, so we've never had any probable cause to officially open a case. There have certainly been arrests out there, but they were of an individual nature, nothing that implicated the establishment itself. And we've tried a couple of sting operations, but our cover was always blown. I mean, how undercover can you get in Oxford where everyone knows everyone else? We just couldn't seem to crack it.
Detective Armstrong: Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm getting to the point where I'm busting the kids of lowlifes I busted years ago. They know me a mile away.
Detective Huckabee: Yeah, and that place is sharp. You gotta hand it to them, the scumbags. They're very strict about who they deal with and careful how they do it. They're not a bunch of thrill seekers; they're real careful and methodical. They have this back room — Sometimes they call it a private bar; sometimes they just call it an office — but either way, no one ever gets in there. If you're not really tight with them, you ain't getting in.
Detective Murphy: You guys never got any evidence?
Detective Huckabee: Nothing concrete to speak of. Just hunches and rumors.
Detective Armstrong: So y'all just kept an eye on the place?
Detective Huckabee: Yes. Me and Charlie both made it a point to swing by there often trying to find any illegal activity we could.
Detective Murphy: Like what?
Detective Huckabee: You name it, and we looked for it. We went out there and wrote tickets for expired plates. We sat outside and watched for DUIs. We carded people drinking. We checked their liquor license, checked out the food handling for health code violations. One time we even told them we were helping the IRS and wanted to see their employee pay stubs. Hell, this one time, Charlie took a thermometer to their cooler and checked the temperature of the burgers.
Detective Armstrong: You guys went all out.
Detective Huckabee: Yeah, you know, we were just trying to rattle some cages. Normally, I wouldn't do stuff like that, but we didn't want those losers to forget that we were watching. If I find out they had something to do with Charlie's death, I'm going to—
Detective Armstrong: Not if I beat you to it.
Detective Huckabee: Then it's a race. I'm sure you guys could use the help—
Detective Armstrong: Are you saying we're not doing the job?
Detective Huckabee: Hell no. I was just offering—
Detective Armstrong: 'Cause I'm not going to listen to people who think they can do better!
Detective Murphy: Let it go, Ted. I understand what Jason's saying.
Detective Huckabee: Can we please continue? Relax, Armstrong.
Detective Murphy: Sure. Okay, uh, well, tell us about Hank Peterson.
Detective Huckabee: Hank Peterson bought The Rebel Yell in early 2013. Prior to that, the building had housed The Dew Drop Inn, but it had been shut down for about three years before Peterson got ahold of it. He took several months to renovate the property and then opened in July of '13. Business has been good ever since then.
Detective Murphy: What do you think about Peterson?
Detective Huckabee: We never got anything that would implicate Mr. Peterson in any of the activities at The Rebel Yell.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean, Jason?
Detective Huckabee: I don't know. It's tough to say. He puts up a good front. That whole "good ole country boy" routine is pretty convincing.
Detective Murphy: Do you believe it? Sarge told us not to buy his routine.
Detective Huckabee: I don't buy it either, but I don't know if the routine is just good business or if he's covering up criminal behavior. I mean, look, the good ole boy thing is great for a bar owner around here. You fit in, and the bumpkins from out in the county like you and drink at your bar. People trust you and so forth. It's just good business.
Detective Murphy: But it could also be a smokescreen for his real work.
Detective Huckabee: Exactly. The routine could also be used to throw off any heat from the police. I just don't know. I know that Peterson is not as simple as he tries to sound. But does he really know what's been going on at the club? And if he does, how much does he know? There's a difference between just kind of turning a blind eye to some guy who you think is a pot dealer and actually employing that pot dealer yourself. I never could tell if he was just letting stuff happen or if he was making stuff happen.
Detective Murphy: But you agreed with Charlie's desire to keep looking around at The Rebel Yell?
Detective Huckabee: Absolutely.
Detective Murphy: When was the last time you were there?
Detective Huckabee: Right before Charlie passed. We rolled by there on May 15th. I can't believe he's gone. We were laughing and joking. We wrote a ticket to some guy with a broken taillight. That was the last time I saw Charlie.
Detective Armstrong: I know you're real tore up, Jason. I'm sorry about blowing up earlier. I know you're just trying to help.
Detective Huckabee: And I'll help in any way I can. But we gotta get this piece of trash.
Detective Murphy: Guess we might have to ride out to The Rebel Yell again.
Interview ended – 3:36 p.m.