July 30, 2020
By: Staff Report
Gulfport, Miss – Joseph D. Sonnier, 31, of Gautier, Mississippi, has been charged in an indictment, returned by a Federal Grand Jury on July 28, 2020, with four counts of assault on an officer or employee of the government, one count of felon in possession of a firearm and four counts of discharging a firearm in connection with a violent crime, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.
Sonnier will have his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo in Gulfport on Thursday, August 6, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.
According to Count 1 of the indictment, Sonnier is alleged to have fired a firearm at J.M., a U.S. Marshals Service Task Force officer, in the course of his duties as he attempted to execute a search warrant, striking J.M. in the neck. According to Counts 2-4 of the indictment, Sonnier is alleged to have used a deadly weapon to assault, impede or otherwise restrict three other officers as they attempted to execute the same search warrant. According to Count 5 of the indictment, Sonnier is alleged to have been in possession of a firearm even though he is prohibited as a convicted felon. According to Counts 6-9 of the indictment, Sonnier is alleged to have discharged a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
If convicted, Sonnier faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of assaulting a federal officer, a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and 10 years on each count of discharging a firearm in connection with a violent crime.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erica Rose.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.