Eyewitness News at 6, 3-12-13

5:59 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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< This is a tragedy for the Davis family and my heart goes out to them, but they found that while this shooting was a tragedy, it was justified. >

That's district attorney David Cooke during a news conference today... After announcing the GBI's findings... and his own on the December shooting of Sammie Davis Jr. By a police officer.

Good evening and thanks for joining us...

I'm Leah Johnson.

Frank Malloy has the night off.

Tonight...the return of those Gbi files are our top story...as we've learned new facts about the investigation...and what witnesses say...happened outside the Macon Kroger on Pio Nono Avenue.

For that, we go to 13WMAZ reporter Tom George.


After months of waiting, a Macon police internal investigation, and an investigation from the GBI, District Attorney David Cooke announced he won't be filing any charges against Macon Police Officer Clayton Sutton, who shot and killed Sammie Davis, Jr. ... He says although the shooting was a tragedy, Davis attacked Officer Sutton and left him no other option.

Officer Sutton reasonably feared for his life. He shot a 6 foot 2, 365 pound, mentally ill man whom he believed was slicing open his neck.

Davis says police were called to the scene in response to a 9-11 call from a customer who had just left the store concerned for people's safety because of Davis' behavior towards her... He says the altercation began when Sutton approached Davis and asked him to take his hands out of his pockets.

< Mr. Davis refused and after Officer Sutton again asked him to take his hands from his pockets and second time, at the point, Mr. Davis charged officer Sutton grabbing him by the neck. >

That's when Sutton believed Davis was cutting him with a knife ..

. Take a look at this picture released today ... You can see the gash on Sutton's neck ... It was at that point he made the split-second decision to fire his gun at Davis...

Now a major question was why Macon PD intially told the media Sutton has a warrant for Davis' arrest when he showed up at Kroger when we found out that wasn't true. I asked David Cooke about that, and he says when Sutton arrived and found Sammie Davis, he recalled a warrant for a different Davis that hadn't been issued.

< When Mr. Davis identified himself as Sammie Davis, Officer Sutton got out of his car to determine if this was the same Mr. Davis who had an active and if that warrant was active, but he never made it any farther than that .. By the time he said lemme see your hands twice, Mr. Davis unfortunately lunged at him and grabbed him by the neck, and that;s what sat in motion what led us to here today. >

Now although no criminal charges will be filed against Officer Sutton, it's unclear what will happen to him employment with Macon Police ... Sutton's record showed more than dozen reprimands by Internal Affairs for violating police conduct ... I tried to reach Macon Police for comment, but they have not responded.

Though the GBI's role is finished, two local elected officials want the U.S. Department of Justice to step in now.

Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen and Macon Councilman Henry Gibson say too many questions remain.

They spoke a short while after District Attorney David Cooke's statements.

< Henry Gibson: The officer never, prior to going to the Kroger, called for backup, or for a supervisor. There's a button on his belt that he could mash that would have engaged a recorder and a camera that was never done.>

Allen says the investigation wasn't handled correctly from the start.

<Joe Allen: They should have called the GBI in to start with. Secondly, then if we did not feel as representatives of this community that we represent the people of this community... They do not feel that something was justified... Then you bring in the justice department. Let them look at it, and when they give their conclusion, we'll live with their conclusion.>

Both Allen and Gibson ask the community to remain calm... as they seek to further their investigation.

A group that plans to march through the city Friday.

They say they want to express their frustration with the Sutton case.. and other police department problems.

Organizers say the march says the rally will start at Tattnall Square park around 3 Friday afternoon and end in front of Macon city hall.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert would not speak publicly today about the DA's decision.

The mayor met with Macon Police Department leaders...and they issued a joint statement.

According to the release...Reichert and Police Department leaders will hold a news conference soon to discuss the next steps in the process.

Deputy Chief Mike Carswell says they'll conduct their own internal Shooting Review which will take ten days to two weeks.

Then Reichert and police plan to announce the findings and their thoughts on how police can improve community relations.

When officers are involved in shootings... Local police departments and sheriff's offices often ask the GBI to investigate.

It's not required... But common according to retired Special Agent for the GBI... Gary Rothwell.

The 31 year veteran of the agency explained to Lorra Lynch Jones why they get involved and how their investigations work.

Shown here just before his retirement last summer... Gary Rothwell says he worked hundreds of officer involved shooting cases during his three decades with the GBI.

He said by phone Tuesday... Local police agencies often ask for that service for two reasons:

Smaller agencies may not have the resources.

Larger departments have the capability.. But often want to ensure there's no appearance of favoritism toward their officers.

Two recent Central Georgia investigations fall under the second category.

Macon Police asked the GBI to conduct an independent review of the death of Sammy Davis Junior... Shot by a police officer in a Kroger parking lot.

Warner Robins Police asked the agency to investigate the killing of Anthony Rawls... Who died Sunday after officers allegedly shot him on his front porch.

Rothwell says once the GBI is asked to take over the case... They handle it like any other crime scene... collecting evidence and talking to all the witnesses... Trying to answer one question.

<the GBI is investigating whether a criminal act occurred on the part of an officer or other parties involved. It is not an internal affairs investigation of any policy violation.>

The GBI compiles their findings... And turns them over to the district attorney.

<we present the facts to the DA and try to be an independent collector of those facts. At times were asked for our opinion. We don't typically state that publicly, but if were requested by the DA to offer an opinion we will do so.>

Lorra Lynch Jones 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.>

The most recent study on police use of deadly force was released in 2010 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

It says most police killings would be considered justified... If officers were "defending themselves or others from the threat of death or serious injury."

In about 80-percent of the cases... The study found suspects used a weapon to threaten or assault officers.

Meanwhile...an investigation is underway of another fatal police shooting...this one in Warner Robins.

The GBI agent in charge of that case tells that FIVE officers fired shots at Anthony Rawls...after a domestic disturbance at this home Sunday night.

Rodney Wall says their investigation so far also shows that Rawls pointed a gun at his own wife...and fired shots at police.

The autopsy shows that Rawls died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Wall says the GBI's investigation could take up to 30 days.

The GBI found that Davis suffered from the mental illness schizophrenia and had not been taking medication.

That's according to DA David Cooke.

Katelyn Heck joins us in the studio with Bruce Conn... A licensed family therapist who's here to talk about the mental illness that affects more than 2 million Americans.

Also today....Warner Robins chief Brett Evans released a statement saying he stood behind his officers.

He says he thinks the GBI will show they acted within the law...and followed department policies and procedures.

Chief Evans offered thoughts and prayers...for all the families touched by the shooting.

What causes schizophrenia and what are some of the most prominent symptoms?

How functional can people with this particular mental illness be?

There is a perception that people with mental illness... Including schizophrenia can be violent... Is that true?

What are some of the ways to treat schizophrenia? How important is it to stick to a medication regimen?

Toss back to leah

Katelyn, Thank you. You can read much more on this story at 13WMAZ-dot-com... We'll also be following it, tonight at 11.

FBI agents arrested Forsyth city councilman Desi Hansford... for taking a bribe to rig a vote on a city contract.

Just over an hour ago... the U.S Attorney's Office released the name of the second councilman... James Calloway.

Calloway will be indicted along with Hansford.

The two men are charged for bribery.

Judy Le has more.

<Desi Hansford has been a city councilman for nearly six years...

According to the affidavit...FBI agents arrested him for asking for 20-thousand-dollars in exchange for securing a city contract.

It started in December when a company's city contract was up for renewal. Hansford and his partner asked for 20-thousand-dollars from the company's president to win the bid.

The FBI does not name the company...but says Hansford is chairman of a council committee that oversees city utilities.

The company told the FBI about the bribe. That's when the company and hansford's associate agreed to accept two payments... of 10-thousand dollars each.

The first transaction happened at the Travel America Truck stop off 75 near Jackson. The FBI provided the company with the money and wired their car to record the conversation. Hansford and his partner split the cash evenly. The second payment was made a week later.

But there's a twist. On March 11 at around 11 a-m. Hansford met his partner at the Monroe County Youth Center off Hwy 42 to accept another bribe.

His partner...who was cooperating with the FBI...paid him 5-thousand dollars.

Agents arrested Hansford just after the money changed hands.

According to the affidavit...Hansford says he thought the money came from the company to ensure the city contract.

Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news>

Calls to the mayor were unanswered. We also called City Hall... City administrator Thomas White says the FBI advised them not to talk. Hansford and Calloway face a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a 250-thousand dollar fine.


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