<the swat team ,all the guys, neighbors in this community that are helping us out with water and drinks and all that. It's a real nice way to appreciate what we're doing and helping us out>
Many in Macon knew Lt. Mark Cotton...as head of the force's training academy...
But fourteen years ago, when this interview aired...survivors of a standoff knew him...as a hero who took a bullet in the line of duty.
Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Frank Malloy.
And I'm Leah Johnson.
This is Eyewitness News at Six.
Lieutenant Mark Cotton passed away Sunday from heart problems.
In a few moments.. we'll reflect on his role in a story that our station covered extensively in 1998.. through the eyes of someone who says...Cotton's bravery saved lives.
When a police officer and a suspect struggle...it could be a life-and-death situation.
But it doesn't have to be.
Last month....a Macon police officer shot and killed a man outside a supermarket.
And now... some city council members this week were surprised to learn that most Macon officers don't have a non-fatal option for subduing a suspect....a Taser.
Tom George explains why.
<5 second bursts of electricity ... And the incident's over in 5 seconds...>
Macon police say most officers don't have Tasers due to budget problems...but one city council member says...all they have to do is ask.
< At least on the legislative side of the hall, any request that the police department requested as it relates to capital, we rubber stamp, so if they would ask for 100 tasers, they would have them. >
But there's no Taser shortage at the Bibb County sheriff's office.
They say all their officers carry tasers...and are trained to use them. Captain Charlie Gunnels says they help keep officers and citizens safe.
< Our officer injuries have absolutely gone down since we began using tasers five years ago ... It gives us a non-lethal option where we don't have to use a handgun. >
Gunnels says each taser costs around 800 dollars.
And Bibb is not the only local law enforcement agency to use them ... Warner Robins police say most if not all of their officers carry tasers.
But Baldwin County says, like Macon, they can't afford to provide them for all officers.
Regardless of price, Gunnels says it's worth having another option.
Especially, he says, for a situation like last month's shooting outside the Macon Kroger.
< And I can't speak for what took place out there, but when we go to an arrest, and it escalates from voice command, to soft hands, to heavy hands, our next option is taser... >
In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
So what would those Tasers cost Macon police.
Well...as you heard...Bibb County says their Tasers cost around 800 dollars apiece.
And Macon P-D has about 300 officers.
That means nearly a quarter million dollars worth of Tasers.
The department's budget...just over 20 million dollars.
Central Georgia law officers are still remembering a man who put his life on the line to keep others safe.
As we told you yesterday.... Lieutenant Mark Cotton was just 49 years old when he died Sunday.
An autopsy said he suffered a "cardiac event" due to an enlarged heart.
Today.... Marvin Giddens told Judy Le that Cotton saved his life during a hostage crisis on July 5th 1998... a date he'll never forget.
<I just hope it ends peacefully.
Mark said if things went south, you go south, hit the ground. They advised me they had my back so I didn't really worry about it. I was with there with the child and the gunman said he didn't want to go any further. He said it was about to be over with and I took that as he's about to take the child's life. I tried to pull the child out, the gunman tried to pull the child in and we both ended up on the floor inside. He got out three shots probably within 2-3 seconds. And within the first 4 or 5 seconds, SWAT team was through the door. Mark Cotton, Lt. Cotton and John Roberts were the first to get through the door and they took the next two shots, both of them were shot.>
<is that a memory that keeps going on in your head, that keeps replaying?>
<that's just etched in my memory because that date I know that date would've etched on my headstone if Mark Cotton hadn't been there. I just hated when I heard the news about Mark Cotton. I feel like I owe my life to him.
mark cotton didn't put his name and the word hero in the same sentence. So now in his passing do I feel safe doing that. because I know he wouldn't allow it, you know, if he were still here. I don't know how macon police will ever replace mark cotton>
Lieutenant Cotton was 49 years old.
Macon police say his funeral will be private at the request of his family.
In other news tonight...Jomekia Pope pleaded guilty last week to killing his girlfriend Latosha Taylor in 2005.
Pope admitted to pouring gasoline on Taylor...and then setting her house on fire.
She spent two months in the hospital....before she died from her injuries.
Judge Phillip Brown today decided to sentence him to life without parole.
Austin Lewis was in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down.
Both the district attorney and Pope's attorney laid out their case to Judge S. Phillip Brown.
In his closing argument...David Cooke said Pope shouldn't be granted parole.
Latosha Taylor...lived for two months...after she was set on fire by Pope.
Cooke says her death wasn't quick and painless...and that Pope "decided to put her through hell."
But defense lawyer Dennis Francis said his client should have the opportunity for parole.
He argued that Pope has been a model inmate...who has a chance to turn his life around.
<I sentenced him to life without the possiblity of parole. Applause >
That was the word from Judge S. Phillip Brown... After the two-day sentencing hearing.
Brown told the court...he kept on going back and forth over this decision.
And he gave himself the option to change his mind in two weeks.
<David Cooke, District Attorney: our goal was to make sure that he never got out again and to do this to anyone else, this sentence ensures that that will happen, that he will never get out and hurt another woman >
<dennis Francis: I thought it was interesting that Judge Brown left it open if you remember he said he will reconsider this because it's such a serious matter and he indicated that he was polarized he was torn, he was pulled from both sides so I am certainly not surprised and we understood the stakes of what we were dealing with.
Latosha Taylor's family...had been waiting for nearly seven years to learn Jomekia Pope's fate.
<Arleshia Pettigrew, Mother of Latosha Taylor: It was a sense of relief because up until this point we know that it could have went either way >
In 2005...Pope was arrested for dousing Taylor with gas and setting her house on fire...and Taylor's mother says she was with her daughter as she fought for her life for two months.
<Arleshia Pettigrew, Mother of Latosha Taylor: Tosha was a loving person and she did not deserve for her life to have ended this way. No one deserved this but especially LaTosha>
Arleshia Pettigrew...Latosha Taylor's mother says she hopes her daughter's story will shed light on the pain of domestic violence.
Pope's defense attorney says they will file a motion to reconsider that sentence.
Again...Judge Brown said he expects to review the matter...within two weeks.
Still ahead on Eyewitness News at 6...remember that petition circulating...to secede from the United States of America?
Today...we have a response from the White House.
That's just ahead.
they came with leis and bright tropical shirts... Celebrating the success of one of their own in Hawaii.
What Stratford students say they've learned from alum Russell Henley...ahead in sports.
A bibb school official now is asking a superior court judge to throw out a 5-point-75-million dollar lease between the district and a non-profit.